I’m actually still upset that War Horse didn’t win Best Picture at last year’s Oscars. An intense, wholesome, beautiful story that showcases both the tragedy of war & the bond between man & horse? I thought it was a definite shoe-in [I even had a bet going, but enough about me]. Maureen & I were fortunate enough to attend the opening night of the War Horse show production at Minneapolis’ Orpheum theatre. And this was the first show I can remember us actually being nervous to watch. Not because we didn’t think it would be fantastic, but because we knew it would be.
War Horse follows a family struggling to survive in the pre-WWI era. A proud, stubborn farmer purchases a horse at auction for an unprecedented price. A hunter at that [i.e not a farm horse]. His son, Albert, immediately falls in love with the new colt, who he names Joey. This is a relationship that anyone who has ever loved a pet can relate to, a type of bond that doesn’t need words. Your heart breaks when the story turns & Joey is sold to the war for battle [to help support the struggling family]. And you feel hope when Albert makes it his life mission to reunite with his Joey.
The storyline is unparalleled, but what truly steals this production of War Horse are the puppeteers. A massive shell of a horse comes to life through the guidance of three master puppeteers. And these actors have clearly studied movement. Once on stage, you allow yourself to become completely entranced [and fall in love] with the animals. You can see their ribcages move as they take in breath, ears flick to sound & tails swish to every emotion. It’s an entrancing, gripping, technical masterpiece.
Show aside, this story is special because of the underlying message. It’s a tale of friendship & understanding, even in the harshest of places – war. You witness personalities [both man & horse] fall in battle. You see the blinding reality of the fight – fear, sorrow & cruelty. But where there is dark there is light. You also observe love, from both sides of the line. Proof that each uniform is really just that, a uniform. Joey comes into the heart of & brings those marked as enemies together– because, well, we’re not that different after all.
Running now through 6.23.13. Purchase your tickets here: http://www.hennepintheatretrust.org/events/war-horse-play-orpheum-theatre-2013
Ashley [avid horse lover since age 3]