War Horse

A short commercial for War Horse at Lincoln Center

Say what you will about War Horse, but it’s hard to deny that it is much more than a play with some puppets. It is — and I mean this — an experience. I have now seen it twice, once in London last November at the New London Theatre (its current home after moving from the National Theatre) and then last night in New York at Lincoln Center. After I saw it in London, I knew I had to see it again when I was back home, as there were so many elements of it that I wanted to see again.

It is a draining production, both for the audience and (I’m sure) the performers. It is depressing, yes. Threaded through War Horse (which is based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo) is the theme of how different something can look from the other side. “Oh, we’ll only be away at war for three months,” and yet here we are, almost 100 years later, and we all know how World War I went and how long it took. But much of War Horse‘s beauty lies in its hopefulness, that there are some bonds that remain through everything. The story plays on emotion, and it may even take advantage of that emotion. But it’s also such a powerful, different, unique production, unmatched by anything else I’ve ever seen. It’s a fairly simple story told on a very grand scale.

I don’t want to give anything about the show away, and I certainly don’t claim to be a reviewer, so I won’t say much more. But do consider seeing this show, if only for the (more than) amazing puppetry, via South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company. This is definitely one of the biggest clichés in the book, but I really think that War Horse is a show you have to see to believe. Not everyone will like it, and I’m not saying everyone should. But I absolutely loved it, and it’s one of those shows that I want to share with everyone. “Go see War Horse! Here are a bunch of exclamation points that can’t even convey how strongly I feel about it: !!!!!!!!!! Oh my goodness, the puppets! The horses! The accents! The music! War Horse, War Horse, War Horse!”

Now, I’m off to watch the War Horse Video Diary on YouTube. There’s also a great behind the scenes video series from the Lincoln Center version here.

I tried to come up with a clever subject line for this post, but I couldn’t. When in doubt, stick to the point?


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