Albert Narracott (Alex Furber) and Joey as a foal (Patrick Kwok-Choon, Rahnuma Panthaky, Mairi Babb). Photo by Brinkhoff / Mögenburg
[Publisher's note: today we are beginning a new weekly feature on The Charlebois Post - Toronto: The Show. Each Monday we will be drawing your attention to a production that is playing, is in previews, or is about to open which we think deserves just a little more attention. Our first choice may strike some as odd, but as the piece enters its last months of performances, it merits a second look. Enjoy The Show]
There is a very funny story surrounding war horse which will certainly enter the mythos of modern theatre. Just prior to opening War Horse in London, at the National Theatre where it was created, the powers that be in the house were almost certain that the production was about to lose millions.
How wrong they were. The work was not only a huge success at the National, but went on to a West End run, a Broadway run and finally onwards to Toronto. Along the way this adaptation of Michael Morpugo's book for children was praised by critics and delighted audiences - even many, many people who had never been to the theatre before. It won Oliviers, Tonys and Doras. The draw, of course, is the magnificent puppets created by Handspring Puppet Company which - despite the fact they are clearly mechanical - seem to actually breathe.
But the production is not only smoke, mirrors and machines. Without the complete complicity of a solid corps of actors, War Horse would not have the impact it does: hardened male spectators blubbering into the aisles at virtually each performance. War Horse, quite simply, strikes to the heart with all the magic that the theatre has to offer.
War Horse runs to September 30