The National Theatre brings their spectacular play War Horse to the Mayflower Theatre, already captivating it’s Southampton audiences, it continues to do so until the 9th June 2018.
This emotionally charged play is based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo about a young boy Albert and the heart-warming bond with his unique horse Joey. Separated by war we follow both their journeys as they face the trenches, front lines and battlefields as part of the Cavalry in World War One.
On stage we see a simple set, cleverly landmarked by projections and small props managed by the actors themselves. The horses are brought to life using incredible puppetry created by Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, based in Cape Town.
These life-sized puppets are so majestically operated by three puppeteers it’s easy to look past the people and believe you are looking at a real life horse. The touches of detail from the twitch of an ear, a graceful gallop, and the shake of a tail, brings such life to these phenomenal creations.
With such a large presence on stage it’s amazing how the scenes come together to create a sense of space. The harrowing scenes of the war-torn battlefield are visualised with ghostly figures and slow movement, giving the sense that the soldiers and horses are covering the huge distance of a large open space, all from within the stage parameters.
This beautifully written story combined with clear distinctions between the scenes on stage make this show easy to follow regardless of whether you are familiar with the storyline.
One thing you’ll need to prepare yourself for is the rollercoaster ride of emotions. The sheer determination we see in young Albert Narracott, magnificently portrayed on stage by Thomas Dennis, as the love he has for his horse Joey takes him from the safety of his family farm to the horrors of war.
Along the way we are introduced to Topthorn, an even bigger stronger horse that becomes Joey’s companion, again remarkably created and brought to life with beautiful puppetry.
We see a different side to the war as we meet a German soldier Friedrich Muller, portrayed charmingly on stage by Peter Becker, and see how the incredible bonds between man and beast can soften the toughest of hearts.
Throughout the entire performance you’ll be in awe of this truly remarkable stage show and leave feeling warmed to the soul. A breathtaking and unforgettable show with a timeless storyline, make sure you catch it whilst it’s here in Southampton.