A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

REVIEW: War Horse, Birmingham Hippodrome

There's a reason over seven million people have seen, and fallen and love, with War Horse, and that is because it is unlike any other show. After a few years away, the acclaimed production has now returned to Birmingham.

Based on Michael Morpurgo's novel, War Horse follows Devonshire farm boy Albert, who becomes best friends with his horse Joey after his father takes a huge gamble. After building Joey into the perfect riding horse, there is huge heartbreak when his horse is sold to the Cavalry and shipped to France as World War One breaks out. 

However, sixteen year old Albert runs away from home to find his horse, before finding himself fighting in the war whilst searching for his beloved Joey. In this time, Albert becomes a man, builds his way up in the army and begins to give up all hope on finding his best friend. 

I had never seen War Horse before, and hadn't even watched the film, so the story and production was all completely new to me. It was poignant and a huge, heartwarming tribute to all the people, and horses, which lost their lives during both World War One and Two. 

If the story of the show wasn't remarkable enough, the stars of the production are the absolutely incredible life-sized horses, including Joey, made from woven wood and cloth. However, the way that the horses are brought to life makes the audience believe that they are truly real, and makes your imaginations run wild. Made by South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company, the horses really are a complete masterpiece and totally makes the show the worthwhile production it is.
What I found most interesting though, was the actors mastering the horses. With three people controlling the head, the heart and the hind. However, the actors go through months of training to sound just like horses, from the breathing to the screeches in the drama filled screens. In fact, parts of the production where Joey was galloped across the stage, was absolutely breathtaking and by far some of the best theatre I have ever seen. 

The role of Albert, played by Thomas Dennis, was simply made for him and the role of Albert's mother Rose, played by Jo Castleton, was also absolutely fantastic. In fact, Jo's take on the role was completely believable and the audience felt every inch of her hurt whilst her son was away at war. 

The production and staging of the show was incredibly special, and took the audience from the dreamy hills of Devonshire to the battlegrounds in north France, including No Man's Land, with so much ease and style. What also helped to transition from scenes was the beautiful folk singing from Bob Fox, who brings gorgeous poetic narration throughout the production.

One thing that will always stay with me after watching, and becoming totally obsessed, with War Horse, is just how much the audience was affected by it. It is, without a doubt, one of the most emotional shows I have ever seen. It was also the fastest I have ever seen a crowd get off their seats and by far the loudest round of applause, but the cast truly deserved it. 

I cannot recommend War Horse enough. Although it is a huge production, it feels intimate, has a huge amount of class and style, and has been finished to complete perfection. If you do one thing this month, get yourself a ticket and enjoy the show whilst it's on your doorstep. 

War Horse: 10/10


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