War Horse – theatre review

Separated by War. Tested by battle. Bound by friendship.’

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On Tuesday night I had the privilege of watching ‘War horse’ live on stage at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. I was fortunate enough to have a fantastic seat, only three rows from the front, giving me a fantastic view! I could see everything!

I had seen the film and read the book a while ago, but had heard great things about the stage version and I was not disappointed!

The story follows the tale of Albert, a young man living in West England with his parents who farm for a living and are constantly struggling to pay the mortgage. Albert’s father wins a young, small horse at an auction, and thus begins the friendship between Albert and his new found friend he calls Joey.

Joey must learn to earn his keep on the farm, and Albert is more than willing to dedicate hours on end to ensure he turns into a farming horse. Joey grows into a magnificent, beautiful horse whom Albert has grown to love, believing they will be together forever! That is until one day when Albert’s father sells Joey to the British army, leaving a devastated Albert speechless. Little do they both know that their friendship is far from over and that their journey together has only just begun.

Each horse was guided by three actors, but the movement and likeness to real horses was so realistic it was easy to forget that they were just made of wood. The noises, the way they glided not he stage was so life like, it really threw me!

Given the story involved the first world war, it showed a lot of men and horse dying not he battlefield, which was as sad and dramatic as it should be. The crescendo of the music supported the actors and the way the portrayed what war was from the soldiers perspective.

The big cast was involved in so much of the show, many taking on the horses, controlling and running around with the annoying yet funny little goose on the farm, and many stood during scenes to hold props and change the set according to each setting.

There was no need for this story to be developed into a musical, but the war songs and melodies that played were emotional enough and added a certain something to the atmosphere on stage.

Albert and Joey’s friendship is endless and its so refreshing to see a love between a boy and his horse rather than a boy and a girl, which is what we are all used to! It is strong and binding and clearly one that is worth fighting for until the very end!

I had decided to go on my own to see this drama, as I have no problem doing anything or going anywhere on my own and lets be honest no one wants a friend talking to them all the way through a play anyway, right?

Im glad I did venture alone as it enabled me to give my full attention to the story, despite the fact that I could hear constant whispers and giggles from 3/4 middle aged women sitting behind me. Now I’m all for a chat with my friends, but NOT during a performance and it is NOT FUNNY when a man or a horse is shot dead! Yes, the bang might have been a surprise to you but is it really something to giggle about? This story is intense and heartbreaking and in no way humorous! It drove me mad and I really wish I had asked them at the interval to stop it, especially as at a crucial moment in the last scene I overheard one woman say ‘Don’t worry he doesn’t do it!’

Thank goodness I had seen the film and knew of this, otherwise it would have spoilt it for me and I really would have lost my patience with them. *Rant over*

I smiled, laughed, gasped, shrieked and welled up on more than one occasion throughout the play, it was so much better than I could have ever anticipated! The theatre was packed and it is no wonder, and I am so glad I booked my seat to see this spectacular show!

I know this particular stage production is touring the UK, and I must insist you buy a ticket and see for yourself why I cannot stop raving about it!

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