Saturday, 16 January 2010

War Horse

Went to see "War Horse" at the New London Theatre  last night, with my friend Y.   It was...amazing.  Very emotional,  and the effects were brilliant.

I didn't know much about it. In fact, I knew nothing about it before Y told me about it on my birthday.    I read up a little and learned that it was set just before and during WW1, and was the story of a boy whose horse gets sent over to be a cavalry horse, and he goes to try and be reunited with it.

I also learned that it was done with "puppetry",  which was intriguing and actually quite misleading as I was completely unprepared for the magnificence of the horse "puppets" (which were life size, possibly larger).  I mean, mention puppets and I thought of - well - puppets,  or hobby horses.

I've owned horses for a large part of my adult life,  and I was fascinated by how well the movements and reactions of the horses were captured,  even down to the movement of the ears.

The battle scenes of World War 1 were depicted brilliantly,  and as we were right near the front it seemed as though we were right there.  At one point, a tank comes on stage, turns round and goes back,  and the tracks of the tank were right over our heads.

It was incredibly emotional.  Mainly, for me, because of the story of the horses and what they went through,  but also because of the horrors of WW1.   I cry at most things, so I was prepared with tissues;  at one point I could see Y wiping her eye and I could hear the chap next to me crying, so I got out my pack of tissues and handed them each one. The chap next to me was very grateful.  
When I got up to leave, I turned round to put my coat on and I could see many people in the row behind, both men and women, had also been crying.  

It was very thought provoking, and we talked about it all the way back to Paddington - firstly about what we had seen, the bits that we found most gripping etc,  sheer admiration for the "puppets", and then admiration for whoever came up with the idea. I mean, who would have thought of this, and then had the ability to get funding for it - explaining the vision of the magnificent near-real horses that we saw on stage.  And then the effort in building the horses so that they could move like real horses,  and then learning how to get every stamp of the foot, flick of the tail, shiver of the neck so spot on.

We talked about what would have been different if we had been sitting further back or higher up.  I think that we would have had a different perspective,  and I suspect that we would have found the horses even more magnificent.  I think we would have lost some of the feeling of being in the middle of things though, and we wouldn't have felt the ground shaking.  And I wonder if  thetank would have been quite as scary if we hadn't been under its tracks .  I might go again  with  my DH,  and  sit a bit further back.

If you get the chance, go and see it.  I don't imagine for a moment that everyone would be moved to tears by it, but  I also can't imagine that anyone would go to this and come out thinking it was a waste of an evening. 

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