- January 29, 2018
Puppetry was never as accomplished as this, or for that matter film animation. War Horse is a magnificent piece of theatre where the art of suspending belief reaches an all time high. Michael Morpurgo’s best selling children’s novel would hardly be the first thing you might think of to be made into a stage play, it requiring the presence of several fully grown horses with the ability to act, and this of course was proved in the less than successful film adaptation of the same. Here though the use of Handspring Puppet Company’s brilliantly realised skills make is not only possible but sublimely so. Within minutes one is utterly convinced that these fabrications are living and breathing flesh, so much so that from time to time you need to remind yourself that all this is achieved by amazing puppets and a group of incredible actors who give heart to them.
Strangely the story is perhaps not as good as the staged realisation but it doesn’t seem to matter and the whole is in the end a moving tale of the brutal futility of war told through Joey the horse and his owner Albert.
The piece is stunning in its lighting and design, there is an undoubtable Englishness to the delivery, a beautiful score peppered with folk song and a simplicity of visual artfulness in conveying the audience from one scene to the next. And despite the darkness of the tale there are moments of gentle humour to alleviate the gloom. It is all together a masterpiece of modern British theatre!
In addition, the much maligned Brighton Centre has once again proved its own validity as a performance space, it works brilliantly showing that theatre on this scale has a place in its sometimes cavernous hall.
The Brighton Centre