play reviews in Bournemouth

War Horse Review 2014

On Friday 21 February I attended an evening performance of War Horse at The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. Having heard nothing but rave reviews, I entered the theatre with high expectations.

The theatre was full of chatter, as people roamed the isles looking for their seats. As our anticipation grew, electricity filled the auditorium, sending shivers down my spine. Then, the lights dimmed, and a single actor walked upstage, demanding the attention of the entire audience. The show had begun.

As the play unfolds we are taken on a journey of survival and friendship. The relationship between boy and beast is depicted simply and honestly, and in a way that we can all relate to. We see Albert care for and form a strong friendship with his horse Joey, and witness first hand as it transforms into a bond that is everlasting.

Soon, war breaks out and England is in conflict with Germany, 1914. As the war develops, men and horses are recruited throughout the nation. Valiantly they sign up in their droves, under the impression that they will return home in time for Christmas, and will be seen as heroes. Unknowingly to Albert, his father sells Joey to the army in order to pay the mortgage. Too young to join the ranks, Albert loses Joey and he is lost amongst the sea of cavalry and green uniform.

Before long we find ourselves deep in the heart of French territory. Joey, now a part of the cavalry, is thrown into battle, where he faces German artillery and machine guns. We are then taken of a whirlwind adventure that explores death and the value of life and friendship.

Throughout the performance I marvelled at the artistic genius that thread its way through the very fabric of the play. Each scene change was seamless and each scene had been thought out perfectly in respect to lighting, tone and delivery. Soon, I had forgotten that the horses were technical machines and saw them as the real animals that they portrayed. From the flick of their tails to the flick on an ear, the actors control over the intricate machines is what made them utterly realistic. For this, I must say, bravo!

The scenery was simple yet effective, the actors were energetic and convincing, the music matched the tone of the play, and the puppets were works of sheer engineering and creativity. Together they made for a heart-warming and artistic performance that left me wide-eyed and full of admiration. Having said this, it was the story of friendship between the young boy and his horse that made me fall utterly in love with the production.

Albert and Joey’s friendship was portrayed with sweet sincerity and conviction.

War Horse is a must for any theatregoer.

To visit The Mayflower's website, click here.

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