War Horse - National Theatre

11 Nov 2008

Last night we both attended the National Theatre's production of War Horse. It is the second time round for the production, and was recommended to us by a good animation friend of ours Barry Purves. Barry is an extremely talented animator who has created some fantastic films (and puppets) such as Next, Screenplay and Verdi's opera Rigoletto, as well as animating at Cosgrove Hall for over 30 years (Wind in the Willows, Postman Pat, Fifi and the Flowertots).

It was Barry's rave review that whet our appitite, but when he compared the emotion he felt for a 'puppet' to the realistic CGI creations that come out of animation studios today, we really wanted to see for ourselves how powerful this puppet could be.

Well, we were not disappointed! Based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo, the story follows a young boy who rasies a horse which is later sold to the war effort by his father. Upset by this, the boy sets off to join the army and find his horse. Without spoiling anything for you, there are a good mix of emotions thrown in, and I would be suprised if anyone came away having not shed a tear (even for the big burly men there!)

As you can see from the images - the puppets were amazing. It may be hard to beleive, but the three people operating the horse became invisible and it was truly a horse acting on the stage. From an animation and performance point of view, there was much to pick up from such a performance, and I cannot do it justice in words.

This is completely true - but towards the end there is a moment when the horse gets caught in some barbeb wire - and I honestly caught myself thinking "Oww, they can't do that to a real horse live on stage"!

Oh, and the goose puppet/performance made it worth the admission fee on its own!

We would recommend it to everyone. Thank you Barry!