Travel writer, with teenage kids, who treats Brisbane as a holiday destination...every weekend!
If you only see one show this year, make it this one
I'm a hopeless convert. I've seen it, read it and watched it. So take it from me, you won't want to miss War Horse when it rolls into theatres in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane over the next few months.
War Horse, the stage show, is finally coming to Australia. The production will be hoofing it from Melbourne, to Sydney and finally to Brisbane from December 2012 through to August 2013. If there is only one play you see this decade, make it this one. Its global success is testament to War Horse's popularity with theatre goers of all ages.
War Horse has far exceeded its creators original expectations. But there is more to this production than a few actors treading the planks. There are horses and they are stunning. You have probably seen some of them already – if not at the Melbourne Cup last November then on a barge floating down the Thames as part of London's jubilee celebrations in July 2011.
Three good reasons not to miss War Horse when it comes to a town near you.
Credentials: Over a million people have seen the show in London since it first hit the boards in 2007 (including me) and has been such a success that it is currently touring the UK, Canada, is on in nine USA cities and is now coming to Australia. Not convinced yet? It has also been translated into German for a production in Berlin and won 5 Tony Awards in New York including Best Play in 2011.
I am a total fan. I have the trifecta under my belt. I saw the stage show in London; have read the book 'War Horse' by Michael Murpurgo (and so have my children) and we were the first into the cinema when the Steven Spielberg film of the same name opened here in 2011.
Why has it been such a smash hit all over the world? The unique perspective of the War Horse story. Reason two.
The story is set during the First World War of 1914-1918 and moves from England to the battle fields of northern Europe. But this is not a gloomy tale of war horror, though it does have its eye-welling moments. War Horse is a moving drama about the relationship between Albert and his horse, Joey, at a time when horses were the "wheels" of every day life. Seen from the perspective of Joey, it tells of the horse's experiences starting when he was 'conscripted' against his young owners' wish into the war effort. It is a story of humanity set against a backdrop of war.
And the third reason? The magic of the show lies with the horses themselves. Each horse on stage is life-size, a skeleton of a beast made of a bamboo frame and operated by actors. It took specialist puppeteers in South Africa and a year to create each horse.
Words cannot describe how effectively these magnificent beasts are brought to life. Their actions and reactions are so true to animal movement that, once you stop being intrigued by their operation, you forget the actors are even there. They whinny like the real thing, twitch their ears and their equine shudders are replicated so beautifully the ripple effect shimmers down its entire body despite a non-existent coat
As with most of his novels, the inspiration for author Michael Murpurgo's War Horse came from real events. In total one million horses were sent into battle in the First World War but their huge contribution has been overlooked. By the end of the war in 1918 it is estimated just 62,000 horses had survived.