You know it is going to be an emotional evening when you are offered tissues on arrival and they were most definitely needed! War Horse takes you on a true rollercoaster of emotions throughout the performance as you are taken on the tale of Joey and Albert through the war.
It is a story most people are familiar with from the blockbuster movie or best selling Michael Morpurgo book which it is based on.
The set of this show works incredibly well and is one of the many highlights. On entering the theatre all you see is a black space with a band of clouds, which are used as a projector screen throughout the show as well. Throughout the show the space stays black, this helps to highlight the magnificent figure of the Joey puppet as his light brown colour stands out, and allows for people and set pieces to appear as if from nowhere. This is also aided by the superb lighting which is come of the best I have seen. Some of the most dramatic moments in the show are made even more dramatic by the lighting.
The true star of the show is of course Joey. The life-size horse puppet is controlled by 3 puppeteers and is mesmerising to watch. The sheer brilliance of the puppet is that you forget it is a puppet. Joey is joined by Topthorn for a large portion of the show, the 2 horses filling the stage with their presence.
As well as the horses the show also features a tank and a series of other animals including birds and a Goose, who provides lighter comical moments. All of the puppets are so lifelike that you forget they are puppets and really help to draw you into the emotion of the story.
The actors often get over looked because of the brilliant puppets, which is very unfair. All of the actors are truly outstanding but Scott Miller, Colin Connor and Jo Castleton, who play the main Narracott family, took the cast to an even higher level. Their chemistry as a loving but dysfunctional family is spot on, you feel the love and hatred between them. And Scott Miller's love for Joey is so strong it carries through the whole show which is one of the key reasons the final reunion leaves the audience reaching for the tissues.
This is one of, if not the, best show I have ever seen! I was hooked for the entire show and didn't want it to end. Another highlight of the show is the musical score. Adrian Sutton has written a score that plays on your heart strings. The orchestral recording really helps to bring the drama of the show to life and having this interspersed with on stage musicians and the brilliant singers again is a stroke of genius.
The full house rose to their feet to give this show a truly well deserved standing ovation and cheers.
Everything about this show is a highlight, it is perfect from beginning to end, I could watch it again and again and you must go and see it before it is too late!
Reviewed by Daniel Keen at the Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent.
War Horse is playing at the Regent Theatre until Saturday 6th April and touring the world until 29th December where it concludes in Paris. For more information and tickets visit the shows website.