WAR HORSE arrives in Melbourne

War Horse - New London Theatre (Photo: Brinkhoff Mögenburg)

Critically acclaimed production, WAR HORSE has arrived and is taking Melbourne by storm. Presented by the National Theatre of Great Britain, this show is based on Michael Morpurgo's popular novel by the same name.

This production has received more than 25 international awards, including the Tony Award for Best Play on Broadway. Now seen by over eight million people worldwide, the production premiered in 2007, and has toured to 97 cities in 11 countries.

WAR HORSE is a puppetry theatre production unlike any other. Gloriously human, funny and sensitive, the show tells the story of young Albert and his horse, Joey, set during the First World War.

While the play is well-acted and sentimental, filled with predictable cliches, like the drunken father and sensible mother, the show is completely stolen by the life-like puppets in the production. Consisting mainly of two horses and a goose, the animal puppets steal the show, and are played by humans but are so incredibly lifelike that during the show you begin to forget they aren't really animals, and find these creatures start to take on a life of their own. These puppets are performed by South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company whose ground-breaking puppetry is indeed, one of a kind.

War Horse - New London Theatre (Photo: Brinkhoff Mögenburg)

The sets of the production are arty and stark, and prove a powerful backdrop for the strong acting. The sound effects are equally effective and boom at times. The show also has substantial singing, and while it does not feel like a musical - it is extremely frequent - and is both moving and occasionally intrusive to the storyline. 

Yet for all its good features this show would never be much of production, were it not for the fascinating plot filled with wonderful characters. Drawing the audience in gradually, the viewer comes to love Albert and his horse, Joey, leading to an ending that is dramatic and emotional. While it is fair to say that there were few dry eyes at the end of the show, this production has many great features, and is a classic crowd pleaser, as shown by the standing ovation and which left the audience with a pervading sense of happiness at the end.

Rating: 4/5