The tale of a boy and his horse in “Warhorse”, though capable of having you shed a tear or two, is the marvel of the puppetry that overshadows everything that takes place on stage. At first you watch the human legs under the material that makes up the animals but within minutes you think you are seeing living, breathing animals on stage and they are as real as the person sitting next to you. The stars of this play are the people moving the horses, the Handspring Puppet Company that made them under the direction of Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones, along with the director and choreographer of the horses by Toby Sedgwick. Though these names may mean nothing to you they are the heart and soul of the show and the horses: Danny Yoerges, Gregory Manley, Brian Robert Burns, Harlan Bengel, Rob Laqual, Jon Hoche, Adam Cunningham, Aaron Hasbell, John Greig and Harlon Bengel, fine horses all. Another remarkable animal is the goose, lead and controlled by, Jon Hoche who will bring a laugh to your face more than once.
The story of “Warhorse” is the story of a boy Albert (Alex Morf) who raises his horse named Joey from a foal and becomes a man due to the circumstances of WW1 and his horse. Joey is drafted into the army and Albert goes in search of him. We follow the adventures of Albert and Joey together and separately. During the play we meet Albert’s mother, the tender hearted but tough Rose (Angela Reed), his cowardly drunk of a father Ted (Todd Cerveris) who is responsible for buying and bringing home Joey, along with friends, soldiers and various women, who both Albert and Joey meet in their journeys through war and life. A standout is Andrew May as a conflicted military man. The large cast of over 30 work constantly, and tirelessly, during the whole production.
The play by Nick Stafford, based on the original novel by Michael Morpurgo, manipulates the audience to tears but it is the horses that hold your attention throughout, aided by the background projection and animation design of 59 productions. The technical aspects of lighting (Tom Schall and Paule Constable), costumes and sets (Rae Smith) are all consistent within the time and period the play takes place. The sound (Christopher Smith) is not as crisp as it was the last show here and makes it difficult, at times, understanding the English accents.
“Warhorse” is an adult puppetry marvel that equals any special effects that you may see on any movie screen but they are performed here by actors making you believe that they are horses, real animals with feelings, and let us not forget the funny goose.
Act 1 1 hour and 5 minutes Intermission 20 minutes Act 2 1 hour and 5 minutes Total 2 hours and 30 minutes
Smoke, strobe lights, gunshots on stage
Next tour stops: Fayetteville, Ark. 5/22 Charlotte, N.C. 5/29 Providence, R.I. 6/5