War Horse, New London Theatre, November 2011
This is a play that has been on my 'to see' list for a long time but as the booking period stretched through until 2013 it wasn't one I wanted to see urgently. However once the film version was announced I knew that I wanted to see the stage show before the film.
I've long been a fan of Michael Morpurgo and I've read the novel War Horse several times but I was still a little nervous about seeing the show - after all I'm renowned for sitting there going "it didn't happen like that in the book!"
I needn't have worried from the first instant that actors appeared on the stage I was captivated, everyone raves about the model horses but it is true - after a couple of seconds you really do forget that they are puppets, it really is just like live horses are on the stage. I'm not a great horse lover - the ones I've know have either tried to bite me or have trodden on me but Joey and Topthorn could easily win me over to being a fan. It was the goose that repeatedly stole the show however...
The story has been altered from the book but for me it worked totally and to include everything from the book would have given the play an impossibly long run time. Like Black Beauty the original book is told from the horse's view point and to try and do this on stage would have diminished the power of the play.
I can't put in to words how I feel about this play because it was so totally absorbing and moving. It is incredible that the brutality and horror of war can be so comprehensively portrayed without any violence or fake blood being used. I wonder if playing on the very British love of animals to depict the war is one way to bring the horror home?
I laughed and cried throughout the play and if it had been possible I think I would have stayed in my seat and watched it again straight away.
I'm looking forward to the film but I will be going to see this play again - as soon as I can manage.