Did It Live Up To My Expectations?? – War Horse – New London Theatre – Review

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War_horse_new_posterAfter my post last week several theatre chums said before I went to see War Horse ; “I hope it lives up to your expectations and doesn’t disappoint you.”

That’s always the challenge with a long running and hugely successful show. I have to say War Horse didn’t live up to my expectations, it EXCEEDED them. I think it’s the first time a show has surpassed the expectations and hype in my mind.

So how did it manage to do this?

I think it surprised me in so many ways, firstly I wasn’t expecting the musical narration which I loved. It gave the piece a grounding in the period and added a layer of texture to the piece. The music set the emotional tone from joy to poignancy. The score added a cinematic element to the production that really added to the atmosphere. (The Soundtrack CD is now on my wish list, it’s THAT good)

Secondly the puppetry is really something to behold. I had excellent seats very near the stage and I was just in awe of the skill of the puppeteers bringing the animals to life. I also couldn’t believe the size of the horses – they’re huge! The whole spectacle and scale of the show is incredible.

The puppetry is really quite something when done at this size.

The puppetry is really quite something when done at this size.

Thirdly I surprised myself by how emotionally engaged I became with the characters and story. It is a truly horrific period of human history. Yet War Horse manages to get to the essence of the horrors of war and show that those on both sides are suffering. I enjoyed the fact that the French and German characters spoke their respective languages, that aided to the realism and whilst I can’t speak a word of German it was nice to be able to put my GCSE French skills to the test. In many ways it wasn’t what they were saying but how they said it that impacted the audience.

The final battle was also an epic piece of theatre and I don’t use that word lightly. It’s a show that has got its balance right, there isn’t spectacle just for spectacles sake. It is used wisely and to jolt the audience.

It is not hard to see why this has had such a phenomenal success and I hope it continues for many more years to come as it is one of the most impacting pieces of theatre I’ve seen.

I spoke in my previous post about “theatrical alchemy” and how this piece has achieved that via its combination of writing, direction, set, puppetry, music and cast. It is truly a theatrical gold standard to measure other theatre trips against going forward.

I hope as and when you get to see it that your expectations are exceeded just as mine were.

STARS : ★ ★ ★ ★  (Unmissable)

ps.  I recommend looking at the free documentary and video diaries related to War Horse on iTunes U.

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4 thoughts on “Did It Live Up To My Expectations?? – War Horse – New London Theatre – Review

  1. The thing I found so incredible is how quickly you forget that they are ‘just’ puppets. Even though you can clearly see that it is a puppet and with 3 operators, I was still completely taken in. With Topthorn limping along at the end, I had to stop myself from getting out of my seat and demanding they stop inflicting such cruelty on that poor horse!

    My cousin is an vet who specialises in horses – she saw the touring production when it came to Melbourne. The thing that did it for her was the ears. Every emotion the horse feels is communicated through its ears. They are rarely completely still. So the fact that the puppeteers managed to capture that level of detail is nothing short of astounding.

  2. So glad you enjoyed War Horse Dominic. Great review! Makes me feel like seeing it again (that would make viewing #5 I think!)
    What’s the next title on your bucket list?

    • I’m hoping to see it again soon myself actually! Want to take some other family members to it and will relish chance to watch it all again.

      I’ve still not seen Matilda – so think that should go to top of bucket list now!

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