Michael Morpurgo on War Horse at the New London Theatre
Yesterday I wrote about The Play That Goes Wrong being the perfect show to take reluctant theatre-goers to due to the guaranteed belly laughs. As a more serious option, the other go-to choice I recommend whenever people ask me what THE RUDDY HELL to see, is always War Horse.
I’m yet to meet anyone that’s seen War Horse who doesn’t speak about the show without going a bit gooey and misty-eyed. It’s just beautiful. The story of young Albert who follows his beloved horse Joey into the battlefields of World War One, altogether gritty, moving, heart-breaking and uplifting, and peppered with gorgeous live folk music. I saw it again recently as two of my best pals have recently joined the cast (AND OBVIOUSLY I WEPT WHEN I SAW THEM) and was again, blown away by the dedication, energy and spirit of the entire ensemble.
They’re upstaged only by the puppets. Now, I’ve never been loopy about horses (though I dabbled in horse riding when I was younger and quickly realised my thighs would never look good in jodhpurs) but these equestrian beauties make me melt. Honest to god, within 30 seconds of the horses being onstage, each one being manipulated by three puppeteers, you believe they are real horses. Made by the Handspring Puppet Company, they are simply magnificent. The moment when the foal Joey suddenly bursts onto the stage as a fully grown horse provokes gasps of delight every time.
Michael Morpurgo who wrote the original novel recently interacted with fans of the show on social media, where he answered some of their burning questions about his story and influences, and the production, which has run since it’s first outing at the National Theatre in 20o7. Here’s what the MAIN MAN had to say!
Q. What is your favourite scene in the book and why? How do you find that this scene is played in the theatre?
– Asked by Niek de Bruijn
A. The meeting between the German soldier and the British soldier in no man’s land when they toss a coin for Joey. It is played wonderfully well in the theatre, it’s a moment of great hope after all the tragedy we have witnessed.
Q. How did you feel/react when you saw Joey on stage for the first time?
–Asked by Betty
A. Amazed as was everyone else that a creature so obviously made had somehow been filled with life. Like everyone else I found Joey has a different sort of a life from a real horse. He is not a pale imitation but rather a wonderful interpretation of the spirit of horse.
Q. If you had the chance to perform in the War Horse play, would you take it? And which role would you want to play?
– Asked by Rhiannon Granger
A. I have performed in the play on numerous occasions, in the West End, on Broadway, Australia, Salford and in Canada. I even have a costume to prove it. I was a farmer in the auction scene and was allowed to say two words; ‘ two guineas’ – thankfully I didn’t forget them!
I had no idea the big cheese had actually performed in the show himself! To read the full interview, follow this ‘ere link!
I love War Horse SO GOSH DARN MUCH I’m actually going to see it AGAIN in a couple of weeks. I’ll try not to weep this time. I will probably FAIL MISERABLY THOUGH.
Take your Kleenex and wear waterproof mascara. I’ll be the one sobbing in the stalls.
This post was written in collaboration with War Horse and AKA, though I wouldn’t have written about it if I wasn’t such a SUCKER for this beautiful production! All photography 2014 New London Cast by Brinkhoff/Mögenburg