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War Horse


A Dazzeling production


War Horse - Theatrical version Of a Horse during the World War1
The opening of a dazzling production of ‘War Horse’ in South Africa sends J. BROOKS SPECTOR off to contemplate the artistic memory of World War I, now a hundred years gone by - and to enjoy the astonishing puppetry of the horses in this show.
 
In brief summary, War Horse has been drawn out of Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 children’s novel that is first set in the Devon countryside and then shifts to the muck and death of the trenches of the British zone of the Western Front during World War I – a conflict that, coincidentally, began one hundred years and three months ago.

The story is centred on the bond between a horse, Joey, and his friend and owner, Albert Narracott (played by Lee Armstrong). Albert’s father (played by David Fleeshman) first impetuously buys the foal at auction at a cost he can ill-afford, and then sells Joey, despite his promise to Albert, to the British Army for a large sum, just as the army is gearing up for combat in France. When the horse has been dispatched to the front as an officer’s cavalry mount, the horrified Albert enlists as soon as the army will take him so that he can go on his quest to be reunited with his beloved Joey.
 
The play then follows the dual stories of Joey’s tortures as he is eventually turned into a draft horse to pull howitzers for the German army and then as he is wounded in an escape through the barbed wire of no man’s land between the warring armies. Meanwhile, Albert must partake in terrifying night attacks, face artillery barrages, and then, eventually, suffer a gas attack before (attention, readers: spoiler alert follows) the two wounded, traumatised friends can achieve a kind of secular redemption and reunion as the show draws to its cathartic end.
 
. Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris originally directed War Horse for its UK runs from an adaptation of the novel by Nick Stafford.
 

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