BWW Review: WAR HORSE, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

BWW Review: WAR HORSE, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

BWW Review: WAR HORSE, Festival Theatre, EdinburghAlbert's father is a bit of a hopeless case. At market one day he spends all of the money meant for the mortgage on a foal- purely because his brother wanted it for himself. His wife is understandably unhappy with the purchase of this young horse and eventually agrees that the horse can stay if their son Albert can help him grow into a horse they can make money out of. Albert names the horse Joey and they bond quickly and form a beautiful relationship.

At the outbreak of World War One, the army offer large sums of money for horses to go over to the battlefields and Albert's father sells his beloved horse. Months later, when Albert receives news that the officer riding Joey died in battle, Albert signs up for the army (although underage) so that he can go over to France and look for his loyal friend.

What Handspring Puppet Company have achieved is nothing short of magical. After a few minutes of watching young Joey onstage, you don't notice that there are three men operating him and you begin to see him as a real horse. The mannerisms of the horse, the ear twitches, tail swooshes and head tilts are what make Joey come to life. One of my favourite moments in the production is when the fully grown Joey gallops into the centre of the stage. Although early in the play, I was already completely invested in Joey's well-being and the full-sized horse is just magnificent.

War Horse is quite an intense watch. We follow both Joey and Albert (separately) through the war. I'm not great with gunfire in shows and jumped out of my skin a few times but I do think it is crucial to the story. Thomas Dennis is wonderful as Albert and gives a heartbreaking performance- you can see him mature quickly as he faces the horrors of war.

Aside from the wonderful puppets, War Horse is a visually stunning show. There is a screen at the top of the stage which has been made to look like paper torn from a scrapbook. Graphics are used to set the scene although it is very simply done which is a really nice effect. Haunting folk songs appear throughout the performance and add to the solemn atmosphere.

War Horse is an incredibly beautiful story and the staging is outstanding. I defy anybody to not be moved by the relationship between Albert and Joey and completely captivated by this masterpiece!

War Horse is at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh until 12 May.

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From This Author Natalie O'Donoghue

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