WAR HORSE | STAGE REVIEW
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, Wed 18 June
Five minutes into War Horse I was bleary eyed. The story is universally recognised, Michael Morpugo’s bleak portrayal of the breakout of World War One and the impact it has on a young farmhand Albert, who’s beloved horse Joey is sold to the Calvary and taken from his father’s farm to serve in the war.
Although Albert is only 16, and too young to enlist, he lies to get in the army and heads to France to find his best friend, Joey. From the opening scenes depicting Joey as a young foal, through to the harrowing war scenes, the puppeteers recreate the movements and mannerisms in an incredible show of craftsmanship. Each movement is mimicked perfectly, from hoof stomping and ears twitching to realistic head movements, within minutes you forget there are at least three people operating these puppets at any one time.
The story is moving and emotive and I defy anyone to sit through the National Theatre’s portrayal and not shed a tear.
At the heart is a story of one boy’s fight to save his friend and the horrific senselessness of war at a time when 8 million horses died, or were left dying, in the midst of battle on the other side of the channel.
The feeling of total grief and the cruelty of war and the bonds of love and loyalty on each side of the British and German soldiers, the everyday people and the animals that served are all on display here. If you can still buy tickets, take your children to see a slice of history that shouldn’t be forgotten. This is a truly brilliant piece of theatre.
The real Warhorse ‘Warrior’ is a true story written by General Jack Seely, a friend of Winston Churchill and a war hero, and is about his warhorse ‘Warrior’ and their battle through WW1. Dubbed by the Canadian Calvary as ‘the horse the Germans couldn’t kill’ Warrior’s tale is an remarkable story and I urge you to search it out, if you haven’t already read it.
words ANTONIA LEVAY
War Horse, Wales Millennium Centre, until Sat 19 July. Tickets: £20-£50. Info: 029 2063 6464 / www.wmc.org.uk