Latest Review – War Horse [The Lowry] [UK Tour]

NT War Horse Tour 2017-2018. Photo by Brinkhoff&M+Âgenburg


The Lowry, Salford Quays

Until Saturday 30 June 2018

Following record-breaking runs across the globe, countless award wins and nominations, and even an Academy Award-nominated big screen adaptation of the tale, the National Theatre’s towering, theatrical juggernaut, War Horse, has returned to the UK stage for a second, 10th anniversary tour, and as expected, Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris’s monumental, visionary production shows no signs slowing down anytime soon; in fact, it remains as powerful and as breathtaking as when it first galloped onto the Olivier Theatre stage back in 2007.

Based on Michael Morpurgo’s acclaimed children’s novel of the same name, and brilliantly adapted for stage by Nick Stafford, War Horse depicts the heart-wrenching tale of young Devonshire farm boy Albert Narracott and his beloved horse, Joey, who is sold to the cavalry without Albert’s permission and shipped to France at the outbreak of World War One. Desperate to bring Joey back home safely, Albert runs away from home and begins a perilous mission to find and rescue him, despite being too young to enlist in the army. We then witness their extraordinary parallel journeys as both Albert and Joey are forced to navigate enemy forces, deafening artillery fire, blinding grenades, barbed wire, no man’s land, the trenches, and all other devastating horrors of the Great War.

Given its poignant subject matter War Horse doesn’t always make for easy viewing, though with in bringing together innovative staging, dazzling puppetry and vivid audio-visual design it proves a profound and utterly enthralling spectacle, fully immersing the audience in its powerful and stirring tale, and paying firm tribute to the millions of soldiers and animals that tragically lost their lives in the war.

Thomas Dennis is superb as young Albert, and there is fine support from a solid supporting ensemble, though special mention must of course go to the exceptional (and often overlooked) band of puppeteers, whose skill, commitment and attention to detail in bringing Joey, Topthorn and co. to life is so impressive that we quickly forget they are simply puppets.

Bob Fox too deserves particular mention for his stirring renditions of song-maker John Tams’ haunting folk songs which brilliantly accompany Adrian Sutton’s moving and evocative score.

With a show as consistently impressive as War Horse it is often difficult to sum up the overwhelming effect the show has on its audience, though from the performances and the music, to the staging, Toby Sedgwick’s movement and choreography, and the stunning design work of Rae Smith (set and drawings), Paule Constable (lighting), Christopher Shutt (sound), and Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer of 59 Productions (animation and projections), not forgetting Handspring Puppet Company’s staggering creations, it is an astonishing, unmissable event.

If you only see one show in your lifetime, make it this one. It is quite simply flawless.

Running Time: 2 hours and 45-minutes (approx.), including one 20-minute interval.

Final Performance at the The Lowry, Salford Quays: Saturday 30 June 2018

For more information, and to book tickets, please Click Here.

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