I went to see the show “War Horse” at the Wales Millennium Centre on July 4th 2018. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – I thought that it would probably be sad and frightening and that probably sums it up quite well but it was also very exciting and had a very good and thought-provoking story.
The best part of the show was the puppetry which was amazing! Not just the beautiful horses which moved in such a graceful and realistic way but also the goose that was really funny and the swirling, flying birds!
I liked the character Albert, the teenage son of a drunk gambling farmer, who trained his beloved horse Joey before his father sold the horse to the army. As soon as he’s old enough Albert joins the army to travel to the battlefields in France to try to find Joey.
“War Horse” tells us about war and about the waste of lives on both sides. People are sorry for the men and women who died but I hadn’t realised how many animals had died as well. I came out of the show thinking what a waste war is and how, although there was a happy ending with Albert being reunited with Joey, really there are no winners which I think is the message of the show.
The show was not just about looking at the war from one side as there was a very sympathetic character on the German side – Private Friedrich who missed watching his daughter growing up and tried to desert the army. There were plenty of unsympathetic, even foolish, English characters too and I thought it was good to have this balance.
The set was simple but very effective. There was a huge paper cloud that extended most of the way above the stage. Onto this were projected different images to convey the different settings. It was impressive how a few simple line drawings and scribbled names and dates could transport you from rural England to the battle fields of the Somme. Other than that there were only a few props but the simple scenery meant nothing distracted from the puppets.
The one thing I didn’t like was the music but it definitely did add to the show. It was very loud and I had to put my hands over my ears at some points but this made the war scenes even more realistic! I’m not sure that children younger than me (12) would like the show as I think they might find it scary. I really enjoyed it though and would recommend it to children of my age and anyone older.
War Horse, Wales Millennium Centre, Until July 28
Nia Callaghan is a New Voices reviewers supported by Wales Critics Fund
Mike Smith reviews War Horse: War Horse, Wales Millennium Centre