It’s been a long time since I’ve written about a piece of theatre that I’ve seen, and that in itself is complicated with regards to War Horse, because I saw it a week ago at Broadway Cinema in Nottingham, broadcasted from West End London. Debate of whether that can be considered cinema or theatre aside (ahem, good job my category is called theatre & film, eh), it really was a fantastic show.

Phil Grabsky's Blog - War Horse. Photography - Simon Annnand. Copyright National Theatre

As I’ve expressed in previous blog posts, Michael Morpurgo played a special part in my childhood, and having heard so much about War Horse, I’ve been wanting to go for ages. For those who don’t know, War Horse the stage show utilises fantastic horse and animal puppets, and makes no effort to conceal the puppeteers. For me, the beauty of any art is in the process, and I think the brave decision to keep puppeteers in plain view is one that pays dividends. I occasionally caught the expression of a puppeteer and thought how much it added to the piece, but I also was mostly so captivated by the amazing mechanics of the puppets, I could hardly believe that they weren’t really horses.


The story is great. The way it is staged so simply and beautifully is gorgeous, with people playing fences, and the set being sparse. The torn paper across the whole stage acts as a backdrop for projection, and I honestly wouldn’t have changed a thing about the set, because it was just simply beautiful. My main criticism? At the interval, we were played bits and bobs about the making of the show, an interview with Morpurgo and other features, and at times we were shown events which hadn’t yet happened on stage. I have read the book, but it was so long ago I felt like I was approaching it for the first time, and so was a little bit dismayed to see some of the things play out on stage as early as they did. But for the ticket price, I will definitely be seeing some NT Live theatre again soon!

Photos belong to the production and are not mine.


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