War Horse, New London Theatre

Editor’s Rating

I promised myself that I wouldn’t see Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated film before experiencing the National Theatre’s multiple award-winning play. Over Christmas, I caught a repeat of More4’s documentary, Making War Horse, about how the NT worked with Handspring Puppet Company to adapt and expand upon Michael Morpurgo’s original novella.

Every single one of my friends who has seen War Horse has raved about it. That’s unique – I usually can’t get my friends to agree on anything, so the unanimity was reassuring. Disconcerting at the same time, though – could any one show be as good as everyone was suggesting?

Last night, I got to find out that not only was it as good as everyone said, but they were downplaying it somewhat: it’s a beautiful, emotional piece of storytelling that feels like one of the great theatrical pieces of all time.

I don’t have the time, or the tear ducts, to devote to writing a full review. All I can say is that Handspring’s work on the horses is stunning. Each of the principal horses is controlled by three performers (billed in the programme as ‘Head’, ‘Heart’ and ‘Hind’), who imbue the animals with such nobility and character that the people operating them just fade away. It’s a phenomenal achievement, and one I am truly grateful I have at last witnessed.

I’m not sure if the Spielberg film can possibly be as good as the theatrical version. However, it’s certainly going to be easier to get a ticket for it – although the play is set to tour next year.

War Horse, New London Theatre5Scott Matthewman2012-02-02 14:08:52

I promised myself that I wouldn’t see Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated film before experienc…

Author: Scott Matthewman

Formerly Online Editor and Digital Project Manager for The Stage, creator of the award-winning The Gay Vote politics blog, now a full-time software developer specialising in Ruby, Objective-C and Swift, as well as a part-time critic for Musical Theatre Review, The Reviews Hub and others.

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