War Horse is a treat for Vancouver theatre-goers

War Horse is a theatre spectacle with impressive mechanics. Photo courtesy of National Post Arts: http://arts.nationalpost.com/2012/02/29/theatre-review-war-horse-gallops-off-to-victory/

War Horse is a theatrical spectacle with impressive mechanics. Photo courtesy of National Post Arts: http://arts.nationalpost.com/2012/02/29/theatre-review-war-horse-gallops-off-to-victory/

War Horse is a rare theatrical experience for culture buffs, blending traditional stage elements with modern puppetry to create a spellbinding show.  It is one of the most captivating stage productions to ever visit Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

Based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel of the same name and adapted for the stage by Nick Stafford, War Horse tells the story of Albert and his horse, Joey, whose bond endures the outbreak of World War I.

The production opens with Joey as a colt – a puppet controlled by three puppeteers. When the young horse makes his debut, the audience is awestruck.  Although the three handlers are visibly manoeuvring the creation, Joey feels real.

The mechanics continue to impress as Joey turns as a mature horse: A gasp is emitted when a grown-up Albert hops up onto Joey’s back for the first time.

In addition to amazing puppetry, the stage direction is flawless. From the English countryside to the battlefields of France, the audience is transported by the larger-than-life scenery and swift movement of the cast.

Fresh from the stages of London and New York, Vancouver is lucky to have witnessed the masterpiece that is War Horse. Theatre-goers can only hope more performances of this calibre visit the city.