Theatre Review: WAR HORSE – The Lowry, Salford

Thomas Dennis as Albert & Joey in WAR HORSE.

Thomas Dennis as Albert & Joey in WAR HORSE. Photo Credit: Brinkhoff&M+Âgenburg

Powerful, emotive and incredibly moving, WAR HORSE is tender and touching story about the bond between a boy and his horse

To mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, National Theatre take their acclaimed play WAR HORSE out on a UK tour, with a three week run at Salford’s The Lowry.

Based on the children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo, WAR HORSE tells the story of Joey, young Albert’s beloved horse, who is sold to the Cavalry and shipped to France during the outbreak of World War One. Soon caught up in enemy fire, Joey’s fate takes him on an extraordinary journey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man’s land. Albert, who remained on his parents’ Devon farm, cannot forget Joey and despite not being old enough to enlist, embarks on a treacherous mission to find his beloved friend and bring him home.

Peter Becker as Friedrich & Jack Lord as Klausen in WAR HORSE

Peter Becker as Friedrich & Jack Lord as Klausen in WAR HORSE. Photo Credit: Brinkhoff&M+Âgenburg

Powerful, emotive and incredibly moving, WAR HORSE is tender and touching story about the bond between a boy and his horse. Told with sensitivity and imagination, this stunning and visually spectacular drama may have been scaled back slightly for the touring production but has lost none of its power. Every inch of Nick Stafford’s adaption commands its audience, from Rae Smith’s inspired backdrop to Adrian Sutton’s score which is poignantly brought to life by the rich vocals of Bob Fox, works seamlessly together to deliver a production that is every bit as good as you have heard.

At the heart of this innovative production is the astonishing life-sized puppet horses brought to life by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company. Breathing, galloping and charging around the stage with wonderful ease and reality, the effect is simply astonishing and you truly believe that you are watching living, breathing, real-life animals on stage.

Thomas Dennis as Albert & Joey in WAR HORSE

Thomas Dennis as Albert & Joey in WAR HORSE. Photo Credit: Brinkhoff&M+Âgenburg

Every member of the huge and talented cast also help to bring this emotional story to life. Thomas Dennis perfectly catches the youthful spirit, naivety and exuberance of Albert to deliver a compellingly performance as the young boy desperate to get his friend back. Peter Becker as Friedrich Müller and Jo Castleton as Albert’s mother Rose also stand out for their captivating and heart-breaking performances.

As expected, the painstaking realities of war means that a number of scenes are a little difficult to watch and the bloody battlefield scenes in which both men and horses are left for dead on the ground is sure to bring a tear to your eye.

That said, this is a wonderful spectacle and you can’t help but be captivated by the sheer physicality and phenomenal inventiveness of the piece. Don’t miss it!

(5 / 5)

WAR HORSE runs at The Lowry, Salford until 30 June 2018.

About Donna

Donna is the Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she is a digital marketing whizz, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage, The Public Reviews and ScreenRelish. Loves Shakespeare, prosecco and Formula 1