One of The National Theatre’s longest running productions is War Horse and the touring production has galloped into Woking this week.
This year we are remembering 100 years since the end of World War 1 and we honour and remember the ten million fighting men of different nationalities that gave up their lives during this conflict. However in addition, over a million horses were sent to France between 1914 and 1918 of which only 62,000 returned and this is the premise behind the story of War Horse.
This show is Based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel of the same name, and has been brilliantly adapted for stage by Nick Stafford. The show depicts the heart-wrenching tale of young Devonshire farm boy Albert Narracott taking charge of a young foal bought by his drunken father. The horse, named Joey by Albert, grows into a magnificent stallion, and Albert is heartbroken when Joey is requisitioned by the government to go to the battlefields of France. Heartbroken at the loss of Joey, Albert, played by Thomas Dennis, enlists with the sole purpose of tracking down his beloved horse.
Whilst the human element of the cast deliver outstanding performances , for me the spotlight must fall on ALL of the puppeteer’s superb acting skills that transport you to a place where you don’t even see the performers, you just see an innocent foal finding its feet for the first time, or a comedic goose strutting its way across a farmyard.
It’s not often that I feel uncomfortable watching a performance, but throughout the second half, I felt just that, as I was transported back to the ravaged war torn fields of World War 1. I felt as if I was watching something truly awful happening right in front of eyes, yet I was unable to take my eyes off the carnage occurring right in front of me.
Only after watching this production, can I even begin to have an understanding of the hell that both animals and humans went through during the war, I will wear my poppy with pride from this day on.
I could quite simply review it in 1 sentence, “Steal a ticket if you have to, This show is Unmissable.”
Reviewed by Neil Mcfarlane