BWW Reviews: WAR HORSE Mesmerizes Cincinnati
When Michael Morpurgo heard Broadway producers were turning his children's book War Horse into a staged play, he said "They must be mad." It was an ambitious concept indeed, but one that has resulted in a beautiful, compelling piece of theater.
As World War One begins, Joey, young Albert's beloved horse, is sold to the cavalry and shipped from England to France. He's soon caught up in enemy fire, and fate takes him on an extraordinary journey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man's land. But Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, he embarks on a treacherous mission to find him and bring him home.
Joey is the "star" of the show, as a six-foot tall, larger-than-life, ride-able horse puppet that whinnies, trots, and gallops around the stage. As a fully-grown horse, three puppeteers control the animal in a beautiful sort of choreography to bring the horse to life. It can sometimes be hard to watch what else is happening on the stage when watching Joey's life-like movements off to the side, from taking moments to eat grass and the way that his body raise and fall as if he was breathing.
There's no attempt to hide the puppeteers from the audience, and it only makes the talent on the stage that much more respectable to watch them perform.
The torn sketchbook hanging overhead becomes an integral part of the story, from signifying the weather, date, or a broader view of what is happening on stage. At times, cast members perform folk-like songs, only adding to the beauty of what is already happening on stage.
While War Horse is a strong and rather violent war story, the creators and performers have breathed a beautiful life into a tough time in history.
Now through April 7th, tickets can be purchased at the Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Cincinnati Box Office in the Mercantile Center downtown at 120 East Fourth Street, online 7 days a week/24 hours a day at BroadwayinCincinnati.com or by calling the Broadway Across America toll-free Cincinnati Season Ticket Hotline at 800.294.1816.