I have seen the film based on the same book before and I remember liking the story and how real it all seemed. The story on its own is quite special as it really shows how the horses were used during the war.
Now I went to see the theatre version to see how they would handle the horses on stage. Real horses seem to be too fickle to use. In this version of the story, they use big horse puppets which can be ridden (sometimes full horses, sometimes legless horses depending if it are the “main” horses or just extra horses to give the feel of a battle with horses)
I really loved the puppets, even though each full blown horse ones have three puppeteers working on them, I forgot often they were there. I think this is what can be called the magic of theatre. The story is so compelling and the horses emotions come over as if they were real that I forgot at moments that they were not.
Even though it’s a story of war, there are some funny parts too. One of the best is actually the goose puppet. The whole cinema room laughed whenever it charged to try to get in the house or when it nipped at someone’s heels.
Setwise it’s a very bare set., sometimes a door would appear when we were at the farm or a piece would be rolled on like the big cannons. But the change in pastures/enclosures for the horse were even sparser, it was done by actors changing positions on set with sticks in their hands to show the size of the enclosures.
Since the play is still going strong at London’s West End, I would now consider going to see it in real life. It’s really moved me, maybe weirdly more than the film version did, and I think that seeing it live would that much more.
I’m now also wondering if the book would be nice to read. It would be weird since the book is told from the view of the horse, it would be the first time I would need to move into the head of an animal when reading.