War Horse: Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Reviewed 27th February 2019
The National Theatre’s critically acclaimed adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s moving book War Horse is currently touring the UK. Having already enjoyed 8 record-breaking years in London’s West End and having played in 11 countries around the world the new UK tour means even more people can experience the emotional story for themselves. At the outbreak of World War One Alberts beloved horse, Joey, is sold to the Cavalry. Having grown up with Joey and developed such a strong bond Albert cannot forget his beloved horse and embarks on a dangerous mission to find him and bring him home.
Visually stunning, this production has the ability to draw the audience in and leave them breathless. The outstanding puppets by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company are quite literally astonishing. The ability to bring life-size horses to life onstage is mesmerising. The actors controlling the horses enable even the most sceptical audience members to fully believe that the horse standing on stage is real. Every detailed movement the horse makes from swishing its tail to breathing is controlled perfectly. The puppeteers themselves are extremely talented and become the horse themselves as they take on the horse’s emotions and control its most intricate of movements. The captivating story is brought to life through these spectacular puppets which truly do become living, breathing animals in front of you.
The touring cast are incredible. Every member of the cast is committed and clearly passionate about their role in the show. With cast members often taking on various roles throughout the show every inch of detail has been thought of and each talented member of the cast gives an unforgettable performance. William Ilkley gives an outstanding performance as Albert Narracott. The emotion shown onstage is tangible throughout the production. His ability to show Albert’s journey from a young, enthusiastic 16 year-old to a young man literally fighting for his life whilst trying to save the one thing that he loves more than the world is stunning to watch. Christopher Naylor’s Friedrich Müller shows us what life in the war, for either side, may have been like and his portrayal of the German is honest and gripping. Natalie Kimmerling must also be mentioned for her fantastic performance as the young French girl Emilie. The large cast truly give an emotive and heart wrenching performance in every way meaning that the audience cannot take their eyes away from the stage.
War Horse is playing at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury until the 16th March 2019. For information and tickets click here. It continues to tour the UK until the 12th October 2019 until it returns to London for a strictly limited run. For information and other venues click here.
Photo Credit: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg