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A horse, the Great War and an epic showpiece - Theatre Review by Winston Brown

War Horse, a National Theatre Live screening at South Holland Centre, Spalding.  ENGPPP00120140602194600

War Horse, a National Theatre Live screening at South Holland Centre, Spalding. ENGPPP00120140602194600

War Horse - South Holland Centre, Spalding, March 8th 2014

At least five million people have seen it and the movie has taken about £100 million at the box office, but that doesn’t do War Horse justice.

To really appreciate Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel about a chestnut that becomes a war hero, you have to see it on stage.

Unsurprisingly, the National Theatre’s epic production, adapted from the novel by Nick Stafford and made into an unforgettable theatre experience by directors Marianne Elliot and Tom Morris, had Spalding’s South Holland Centre bursting at the seams on Saturday evening.

The play tells the story of World War I from the perspective of Joey, a horse bought by a Devon farming family and cared for by English and German armed forces.

The defining moment of the show is Joey trapped in barbed wire in No Man’s Land, with an English and German soldier climbing out of the trenches to toss a coin to decide Joey’s fate.

The sense that Joey the War Horse would find its original owners was palpable and the hopelessness of war suddenly became the piping of peace.

War Horse has become part of English theatre folklore - and rightly so judging by this masterful show.

 

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