Saturday, June 4, 2011

June 04, 2011 War Horse

For any of you who want to have a thrilling theatre experience, then you should see War Horse, adapted by Nick Stafford based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center. The play has everything that makes for good theatre: a great cast, a wonderful set design,  a story line with a deep emotional core, a musical storyline (although this is not a musical) and of course the horses, in particular Joey, brought to life in the style of the Lion King by the Handspring Puppet Company. The first half of the play is absolutely gripping. The play pulls at your heartstrings as you watch the alcoholic father with his deep-seated inferiority complex wreak havoc on his family and ironically create a lasting bond between his son, Albert Narracott, and the colt, Joey. This relationship remains the very core of the play as we witness both boy and horse mature and grow. The second half of the play depicts the horse going off to war, The War to End All Wars. We witness the untold story of horses on both sides of the battle front, German and British on French soil, and in this case Joey, as Albert searches for him. Here, the emotional core is severed through a series of vignettes that are designed to capture the uses and abuses of the many horses that were used to ferry men into war, pull the wagons, and carry the injured, even as the war itself becomes more technologically sophisticated with the introduction of machines guns, armored tanks, tear gas and mustard gas. Joey is the sole cohesive core to the second half. While we care deeply for animals caught up in manmade wars, and particularly for Joey, we care more for human beings, who unfortunately are reduced to cutouts, as in war itself, and therefore lose our emotional connection. Still, the play is a marvel to behold, a theatre experience to know first hand, and an account of WW I that needs telling. Go see it.

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