Right from the moment War Horse opened in London it was lauded with critical acclaim. Now embarking on another UK tour, this month sees this iconic play stop off in the heart of Birmingham at Birmingham Hippodrome, and it is safe to say that this is a triumphant production.
The exquisite puppetry is nothing short of spine-tingling. From the beating heart of these life-like horses, to the head and hind, three master puppeteers dextrously portray each of these wondrous creatures.
The most striking thing is the set (or lack thereof). It’s not even missed. It’s not needed. Instead every single image is painted so clearly in the audience’s mind, that the ‘basics’ are more than enough. But in the hands of this supremely talented ensemble company, the limited set allows the scenes to blend seamlessly together.
Amongst the ensemble of actors, there are some stellar performances. Thomas Dennis as Albert is a sheer delight, with beautiful support from Jo Castleton as Rose, his mother, whilst Gwilym Lloyd is his rather repugnant father, Ted. Special mention to Billy Irving as the wonderfully hilarious goose and Toyin Omari-Kinch as Brummie soldier David, who both provided many of the laughs.
Bob Fox (credited as Song Man) gives a folk-inspired musical narrative to the piece, helping the story to move along. The music, along with the sound design, is simply stunning. It’s the kind of sound design that at moments makes your heart beat faster, then calms you and then haunts you.
The ability to take you through a rollercoaster of emotions is exactly what theatre is about. And from laughter to audible sniffles, it is clear that War Horse is theatre at its finest. With so many breathtaking moments, it is an aural and visual masterpiece.
Catch it at Birmingham Hippodrome until 3 November.
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