Tuesday, 15 February 2011

War Horse

For Christmas I bought James tickets to see the play War Horse (based on the book by Michael Morpurgo) at the New London Theatre. The date I chose in the end was last night, not because it was Valentine’s Day (although it was a lovely evening) but because it was pretty much the closest date that I could find, and Mondays are generally free of rowing!

So, last night we hopped on the train and had a lovely meal at an Italian place on Leicester Square before wandering down towards the theatre. We had a bit of time spare so popped into Stamford’s travel bookshop on Long Acre. We found that on the basement floor there was a huge map of London, so of course we set about locating all our favourite waterways!

There's the finish of the Boat Race!
 When we found our seats at the theatre we were surprised and delighted to find that we were metres from the stage, and the usher told us to be careful as there would be actors using the walkway in front of our seats! I hadn’t gone for the cheapest seats, but these were only the next price band up. I hadn’t expected to be so close to the action. At one point, the horses were so close to us, and so realistic that I almost thought we would be trampled!

The story is a powerful one, of a young Devon farm boy’s search for his beloved horse in the horror of the first world war, and it is beautifully told. I cried most of the way through it.

Going with James, who is a techie and theatre fan meant that we talked a lot about the set, the lighting and the production, making it even more interesting for me, who could probably count the number of plays I’ve seen on my fingers! The theatre itself is quite modern, with a ‘thrust’ stage projecting out into the audience and no curtain. We were amazed by the production, particularly the incredible life-sized horse puppets, each operated by three people and  made of translucent fabric stretched over wooden frames which somehow create living, breathing, emotive creatures, with twitching ears and flicking tails. The set is quite stylised, mainly created by projecting sketched images onto a screen, and the revolving stage is skilfully used. We also enjoyed the music, which is mainly live, with singing, a violin, harmonica and an accordion, and the comic relief of a puppet goose character!


  1. I'm surprised no-one else has spotted the deliberate mistake! (Photo caption)

  2. Sounds a really great evening. If you haven't already done so, do read Morpurgo's most recent book, 'Shadow'.

  3. @Halfie- I spotted it, but haven't edited yet. I'm sure Amy was just seeing who would notice....

  4. There was a really interesting programme on television a while ago, about the making of those horse 'puppets'. It was amazing how much work went into them, and we are now very keen to go ourselves, and take our grandson.
    Kath (nb Herbie)