From the Queen’s favorite production in London, to the creation of an award winning film and finalizing its popularity by bringing the original novel back to bestseller lists, this is the story of a farm boy and his horse, and how their lives become disrupted by the start of World War 1. One day the biggest concern is how Albert will keep his horse, Joey, out of his father’s hands. The next day, Joey is taken by the army to become part of the proud British Calvary. After that, Albert takes himself to the very edge to recover the life he lost the day Joey was taken. Together, horse and boy, fight their own battles in a war that no longer has room for proud war horses, rather, the battlefield is laden with tanks, machine guns and barbed wire.
It is clear that this adaptation from book to stage has been successful. From London to New York City to Melbourne to Berlin, audiences flock to the theater to sit through the most heart-wrenching production of an English boy, a German general and the horse that brings the humanity out of those he touches.
When I sat down in the round theater, I knew I had volunteered for something that would open the floodgates, though I could’ve have guessed what that really meant. With the music bursting into my chest, I was caught in the first breathes of the production. From foal to stallion, Joey pranced around the stage with the echoing excitement of Black Beauty. Three men worked the puppet that becomes Joey and not once did I ever notice them on the stage. Joey trotted, galloped, charged with the grace of his puppeteers for the entirety of the production and as an audience member you can only be captivated by the brilliance of the artist who created life out of metal and gears.
By the end of the evening, you could see the tears flow from every member of the audience – it’s the blessing of the round theater in which we sat. Husbands comforted wives, men pretended not to wipe the tears from their eyes, the woman next to me was inconsolable and I myself couldn’t dry my cheeks fast enough. There was a pride in the room as our world darkened. It was not pride for the English Calvary, though that was there. It was not pride for soldiers or victory or the strength the in horses were made march to march off to war. The pride that was felt by all of us was that even in the darkest moments there are those amongst us who never forget our humanity. The strength to sacrifice for a cause that is just, to care for those who cannot care for themselves and to remember that there is always a choice.
This is one adaptation that cannot be missed. The message is there, the success is clear.
War Horse will add to your life.