War Horse (UK Tour), Bristol Hippodrome | Review

Thursday, 19 October 2017

War Horse (UK Tour)
Bristol Hippodrome
Reviewed on Wednesday 18th September 2017 by Isobelle Desbrow

On the 10th anniversary since their first show, I was lucky enough to go and watch War Horse. The play is emotion filled and the stunning story telling through the music and ensemble work make the show a must see.

The first act tells the story of Albert training his horse, Joey who we see grow from a foal, to a riding horse, to a farm horse and finally to a war horse. Joey is controlled by 3 puppeteers: the head, heart and hind. This allows the puppet to mimic and move as if it were a real horse, something that is not easy by any means. Bob Fox’s spectacular folk voice helps tell the story through music,adding the perfect amount music to accompany the drama onstage. The cast are amazing as they all play multiple characters but if I hadn’t have looked throughly at the program I would never had known, as each character on stage had a different accent and characteristics. This show truly highlights the amazing work that can be produced by an ensemble cast. 

Thomas Dennis as Albert brought the perfect mix of innocence and will to fight for what he believes in: saving and bringing Joey home from the war. His portrayal of Albert was emotional and moving he deserves credit for his acting talents. 

At the end of the first act we see the beginning of the war and Albert going off to find Joey. These scenes were powerful, compelling, honest and emotional, showing the audience another aspect of World War 1, which I had never seen before.

Something that I haven’t mentioned yet but is off massive importance for the story telling aspect of War Horse is the large projection on to a cloud above the stage; throughout the story, drawings and animations are shown. This adds another dimension to the story, and without spoiling the show for those who haven’t seen it without these images the story wouldn’t be as complete.

Act 2 is spectacularly beautiful and sad. We are shown both the loss on the home front and the front line. However instead of just being shown the fighting aspects we are also shown how the Germans used the horses to move machinery around and pull carts, we follow Albert and Topthorn on their journey through France and whether or not they get the happy ending they deserve. We also see the cruel side when the horses go lame they are no longer required, something that although normal is still shocking to see.

“The puppets in the show are only wood, however it is our imaginations that make them real.” This is how the play was described by Tom Morris at the end of yesterday’s special 10th anniversary show, and I believe this is the perfect way of describing the complexity and beauty of War Horse.

I don’t want to give too much more away but if you have the opportunity, go and watch War Horse- it is not to be missed. 


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