Yesterday, Mom and I went to see the theater production of War Horse. It was beyond amazing.
It tells the story of the English boy Albert who acquires a horse, Joey, and then loses it to the military when World War I comes around. He enlists in the army to try and find Joey again and promises to bring him home. We then follow both of them through the war. Joey is used in the cavalry, pulls medical carts and cannons. Albert goes from trench to trench. In the end, just as Albert, wounded, is about to give up, he and Joey get reunited.
The animals in the show are puppets, made by the same company that made the Lion King puppets. There are a number of horses, but only two of them are main characters. So these two are the most elaborate and require three people to play them.
It was an amazing show, the story line itself is a bit simplistic, but seeing as how the book it is based on is a children’s book, that is to be expected. The decor was very understated. Freestanding doors and a window frame on a string to indicate the houses, iron poles held by people to signify fences, a plow, a cannon. High above the stage was a big projector screen shaped like a torn piece of paper. On there, throughout the show, hand drawn animations were shown to display scenery (extrapolated from what was shown on stage) and drive home the horrors of WWI (which really packs a punch) with also occasionally dates and places to give an idea of when and where everything takes place.
The horses look fantastic and the choreography and movement is so well done that, within minutes, they transcend their form and become real. We were seated first row on the balcony giving us an unencumbered view of the whole stage and allowing me to lean on the balustrade and just be totally immersed.