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REVIEW: War Horse

The National Theatre's War Horse arrives at Birmingham Hippodrome on Oct 10. Muddy's Josella Waldron galloped over to Oxford for the opening earlier this year.


War Horse has become an iconic piece of British theatre since it started life at The National Theatre 10 years ago, transferring to the West End a year later. It’s UK tour has been eagerly anticipated.

The show is renowned for its use of puppets – you’ve probably seen the horses on television at some point over the last few years, but seeing them for real is really something else. At first I was quite distracted by their sheer brilliance and skill of the puppeteers who move them – there are three people to each horse –  but pretty soon the story took over and I was completely absorbed and simply stopped noticing them.

The play is set during the First World War, when Albert the farm boy loses his beloved horse Joey to the Army who take him to France.  Albert lies about his age and signs up to fight so that he can go to the front line and find him. It’s based on the book by children’s author Michael Morpurgo but I’d say this isn’t a story for young kids.  I took my 12-year-old daughter and she was literally blown away by it,  jumping out of her skin during the loud bangs and flashes of the battle scenes (mind you, so did I). These scenes and the subject matter could be quite upsetting for younger children, my 9-year-old would have struggled.  It’s also quite long, 2 hours, 45 minutes including a 20 minute interval.

This is an incredibly moving and emotional story, beautifully staged. Don’t forget the tissues, I had tears in my eyes at the end. 

2018 will see the centenary of the end of the First World War, so it’s a fitting time to see this remarkable show. Don’t miss it.

War Horse runs at Birmingham Hippodrome from Wed Oct 10  – Sat Nov 3, birminghamhippodrome

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