About War Horse
From the National Theatre of Great Britain to the grand stage of the Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center, the multi-media extravaganza “War Horse” is a tour de force of stagecraft and puppeteering. Based upon a novel by Michael Morpurgo, and adapted for the theatre by Nick Stafford, “War Horse” is a striking production utilizing animation along with sound and lighting effects, and the most life-like contraptions to simulate horses that you’ve ever seen. The result is a complex combination of art forms bringing together traditional drama with cinematic elements ending up with an epic work.
A poor English farmer purchases a colt at auction and his son, Albert, names him Joey. The horse grows into magnificent animal that is sold to the British army and sees battles during WWI.
The war scenes in the show are harrowing and the operation of the horse, which heaves, sputters, shakes, and rises onto its hind legs, is the brilliant design of Adrian Kohler with Basil Jones for the Handspring Puppet Company. Made from leather, wood and metal, and operated by sensitive puppeteers, Joey, the horse, is the star of the show and the emotional center of this production directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris.
The performances are terrific including Boris McGiver as the farmer, and Alyssa Bresnahan as his wife. A German officer, portrayed with distinction by Peter Hermann, takes possession of Joey at one point during the battle sequences and his interaction with the puppet (i.e. the horse) makes for a sensitive portrayal. Seth Numrich, as the young man who trains Joey, tends toward overindulgence.
The script leans toward melodrama and the show has a tendency to get caught up in the beauty of the animals, making sections of the over two hour production drag a bit, but the overall feeling here is one of amazement.
With blazing hoofs, and spectacular majesty, “War Horse” is a stunning production. Time will tell if the upcoming Spielberg film adaptation of the novel will be quite as stirring.
BY LESLEY ALEXANDER
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Stephen James Anthony, Zach Appelman, Alyssa Breshnahan, Richard Crawford, Sanjit de Silva, Matt Doyle, Austin Durant, Joby Earle, Joel Reuben Ganz, Ariel Heller, Peter Hermann, Alex Hoeffler, Brian Lee Huynh, Jeslyn Kelly, Ian Lassiter, Tom Lee, Jonathan Christopher MacMillan, Jonathan David Martin, Boris McGiver, Seth Numrich, Prentice Onayemi, Bhavesh Patel, David Pegram, Kate Pfaffl, Stephen Plunkett, Leenya Rideout, Liam Robinson, Jude Sandy, Hannah Sloat, T. Ryder Smith, Zach Villa, Elliot Villar, Cat Walleck, Enrico D. Wey, Madeleine Rose Yen
Vivian Beaumont Theatre
150 W. 65 St.
New York, NY 10023
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