War Horse, the powerfully moving and imaginative play, was the latest in our series of Readers’ Nights. Rebecca Bradbury was there to report back.
At the beginning of June, a score of GTO readers and their guests were captivated by the magnificent drama and magical puppetry of War Horse at the New London Theatre, courtesy of Encore and the producers.
“What a wonderful rollar coaster of emotions! And the horses looked so real I wanted to reach out and give them a pat!” Pauline Maidment, Bexhill Widows & Widowers Group, East Sussex
Based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel and adapted for the stage by Nick Stafford, War Horse captures the devastation of war through the journey of Joey the horse. Taken from his home in rural Devon at the outbreak of World War One, Joey crosses to the continent and joining the British Cavalry he endures the terrible bloodshed of the battlefields. Meanwhile, Joey’s owner, the young Albert, embarks on a perilous mission to find his horse.
The majestic puppetry, created by South Africa’s Handspring Company, is simply breathtaking. The full-scale horse models, built from steal, leather and cane, appear as real as their trio of manipulators. From galloping to fine ear movements, the equine movements are uncannily replicated. The drama unfolds on the expansive stage of the New London Theatre and a variety of media is used to evoke the mood and settings of the play. Sketches are projected as if on a huge torn piece of paper, referencing the character Lieutenant Nicholls who often sketches Joey and Albert out riding together. As the story unfolds the images change from idyllic country scenes to the foreboding depictions of war.
Adding to the play’s emotional impact is the imaginative use of sound effects from the songs of Doğan Mehme, who plays the village musician, to the stirring and startling cacophony of war.
After the show, GTO readers and their guests were invited onto the stage to have their photograph taken with Joey. All were delighted to experience the beauty and character of the puppetry up-close.
“The puppeteers were amazing – after a few minutes you completely forget they’re manipulating the horses, and it was such a wonderful privilage to see Joey up-close onstage.”
Irene Cox, Tonbridge Lions Club, Kent
“I enjoyed the show so much that I’ve already booked 48 tickets for February 2014!”
Marion Bowden, JLR Retirement Group, Berkshire
Once readers’ night
The next GTO Reader’s Night will take place on 7th August to see Once at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End.
The smash-hit Broadway sensation and winner of eight Tony Awards is based on the Oscar-winning film of the same name.
When an Irish busker and a young Czech girl meet through a shared love of music, their songwriting sparks a deep connection and a tender, longing romance that neither of them could have expected.
An old-fashioned love story that dares to be different, Once is brought to life by a supremely talented cast of actor-musicians who unleash all the giddy exhilaration of an Irish ceilidh live on stage.
Twenty pairs of tickets will be available to genuine GTO readers looking to take a group back. The performance starts at 7.00pm, with post-show drinks and a meet the cast session. Successful applicants will be contacted by Friday 2nd August. Please provide a contact telephone number when you apply otherwise we will be unable to let you know if you have been successful. Do let us know as soon as possible if you are then not able to attend so that we can offer your tickets to another reader.
Just tick the box on the ‘Rapid Reader Reply Card’ at the back of the magazine to register your interest. The only cost incurred will be travel to and from the theatre.