by Brenda W. Clough
While we were in London we saw the UK production of War Horse. This show won five Tonys in the US production, and a hatful of awards in Britain. It also was made into a movie by Steven Spielberg. I had not realized that the original source material was a popular British children’s book of the same name, by Michael Morpurgo.
People do not go to see this stage show for the story, which is somewhat sentimental and rather coincidence-heavy. What carries the stage drama, perfectly, is the puppetry. Joey the horse is played by a team of three to five puppeteers, and it is absolutely convincing. The puppet moves and acts like a real horse, exquisitely observed and masterfully manipulated. It is a marvel of stagecraft, able to do all the gaits, carry riders, even pull a plow across the stage. And there are several puppet horses, a farmyard goose, even some birds. The theatricality of it is entirely winning and worth every penny.
What would happen if you lost that? I haven’t seen the Spielberg movie. But the work is perfect for Spielberg. It cries out for him. It was clearly ordained by Heaven to be made into a movie by him, and he did. He used a real horse to play Joey, as you might expect, and so it must be very very different. I don’t think I want to see it, but if somebody has, tell me about it.
The ebook version of my novel How Like a God is now available from Book View Cafe.
My newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out from Book View Café.