Reviewed by Gemma Ingham
I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford to see the stage production of War Horse. I haven’t read the book and haven’t seen the movie but had heard the hype about how good the show was, so I was excited to go and see it.
The production is based on the book of the same name by Michael Morpurgo. It chronicles the journey of Albert and his horse Joey, who is sold to the Cavalry and ends up in the thick of the action of World War One.
Before going to see War Horse I couldn’t help but wonder just how exactly these huge beasts were to be represented on stage. Models would be too static, real horses would an absolute impossibility, and how would a human play a horse without it being farcical? I am pleased to say I was absolutely amazed at the puppetry, although I feel the word puppetry totally downplays the actual effect that these creations have. The feeling of being up close to a magnificent horse can leave you awestruck, and this feeling is evoked once you see how these wonderful beasts have been translated to stage. Controlled by actors, who even though constantly present somehow also seem to fade into the background, every single part of the puppet is totally true to life. Not one part of a horse is ever still. Whether it be a minute ear flick, a strand of hair moving, or the smallest whinny heard, you do truly believe you are watching huge horses on stage. The effect is absolutely amazing, and I believe it’s one of the best things I have ever seen on stage. The choreography is absolutely mind blowing.
While I didn’t care too much for the actual story of young Albert and the travels of his horse Joey (I know, I know, I think I’m one of very few people) there is no doubting that the production is top notch. The dark and dismal mood of war was captured perfectly with the use of slow motion effects, lighting and (sometimes rather too loud) gun blasts and sound effects.
By the end of the show there was hardly a dry eye in the house so it’s advisable to take plenty of tissues!
The Alhambra Theatre in Bradford is a joy to visit. Easily accessible from the major motorways, the staff are always friendly and helpful, and I’d highly recommend a visit.
Tickets cost from £27.50 to £54 (booking fees may apply).
War Horse is at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford from 14 February to 10 March 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.bradford-theatres.co.uk or call the box office on 01274 432000.
Alhambra Theatre, Morley Street, Bradford, BD7 1AJ | 01274 432000