WAR HORSE UK Tour 2017

War Horse

Liverpool Empire

By

Peter Grant

It’s here at last – the eagerly-awaited Liverpool debut of War Horse and was it worth the wait?

Absolutely. A 100 per cent YES.

Joey you really are a faultless creation – a lasting symbol that show us all how war affects everyone in every walk of life.

Michael Morpurgo’s book was turned into a stage play, a film and the rest is history.

I have been asked which do I prefer the drama or the Spielberg movie? Without doubt, confirmed by this UK touring version, it has to be the stage production – now in its glorious tenth year.

It is more than two hours and 45 minutes of theatrical ingenuity, physical energy and powerful storytelling which speaks volumes.

This is a story of the First World War that does not take sides. Joey the horse is a silent witness to the madness around him.

A stunning scene in No Man’s Land between a German soldier and a Tommy illustrated the absurdity of the conflict – men mowed down in the name of bruised imperialism in a war they didn’t even understand.

From the opening scenes in Devon we see a foal being auctioned – his fate in the hands of a drunken farmer.

When he brings home the spirited young horse his son instantly bonds with him and calls him Joey. They are on the same wavelength – it is a friendship magically created on stage by Thomas Dennis who plays Albert Narracott played with innocence and maturity.

And Joey is courtesy of the Handspring Puppet Company who are masters of their craft and deserves every accolade that has come their way since the show became a hit in the West End, Broadway and across the world.

Horses were needed for the war effort. Here some members of the audience were in tears as Joey is taken away by an officer who promises to return him one day when the war to end all wars was over.

We see Joey en route to France thanks to the inventiveness of the set designers and coping with all the traumas of trench warfare.

The sound and lighting create imagery on Rae Smith’s brilliantly inventive set adding to the backdrop screen which is in the shape of a cloud or is it shrapnel – or is it a piece of paper from a torn notebook. Your own imagination is set to work.

It also provides some powerful visual sights such as blood red poppies fading into the dark, shadowy night.

The scenes of Joey galloping seem so real – you forget he is a s lovingly-created piece of art and the puppeteers brig him to life.

Music comes from an accordion player called Song Man who weaves beautiful atmospheric lyrics and melodies.

Earlier in the day I had watched the puppeteers at work during rehearsal and I was misty-eyed at the sheer talent and love on the Empire stage.

Yes. There is so much love in every performance of War Horse – a modern day masterpiece.

Majestic, Moving and Magnificent

(5 / 5)

Until December 2

Contact Liverpool Empire box office: 0844 871 3017

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