Monday, July 4, 2011

War Horse on Broadway

The lights go down.  The crowd's whispers become a hush as the spotlight reveals a chestnut foal.  The narrator sings an introduction, while the foal hobbles on its new legs.  The small horse is tentative and slightly frightened of the audience, but gains confidence as it walks up to the stage's edge, widens its stance and drops its head to crop some grass.  The little tail twitches.  The small muzzle reaches over to bite at a fly on the animal's knee.   The ears swivel and pause like radar beacons.  The ribcage rises and falls as the foal sniffs the air and releases a delicate snort.  The play has barely begun and I already feel tears well up.  The little creature is so real, but his body is composed of metal and fabric, with luminous, glassy eyes.  Three puppeteers walk and trot beside the little guy, but it is not long before I do not see them anymore.  I would hope that the best compliment that I can pay these craftsmen is that, on stage, they disappear as they assign life, emotion, and energy to the puppets of War Horse.


Spoiler Alert: I look forward to reliving some parts of this play through writing.  Future posts will discuss the play in detail, including the ending.  If you would like to see the play in person and feel that too much prior information may dampen your experience, then read no further.  That being said, if you live near New York City, London, or another city, which the production may visit in the future, go see War Horse.  If nothing else, I promise a unique theatrical experience, but I am confident that you will walk away with much more.  No prior knowledge of horses or puppetry is necessary to enjoy the show.  If fact, I would say that I do not really like puppets and found them a little scary as a child, but the puppets of War Horse are totally original, like nothing I have ever seen before. 

War Horse is a National Theatre of Great Britain production, based on the novel by Micheal Morpurgo.  The play was adapted by Nick Stafford in association with the Handspring Puppet Company.  I enjoyed a matinee show at the Lincoln Center Theater at the Vivian Beaumont on Saturday, July 2, 2011.

Next time: My favorite moments of War Horse.

Those sketches appear in fast succession on an elongated strip of screen above the stage during a dramatic gallop scene.

The American  Ballet at Lincoln Center Theater

Vivian Beaumont Theater to the right of the American Ballet


  1. It sounds like it had a profound effect on you. I doubt I will get a chance to see it, so I look forwrd to "seeing" it through your writng here. Cool!

  2. Val - I am so happy that you got to see it! I am sure it will drift west within a year or so. Until then, I'll have to read your posts to "see" it for now. :0)


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