REVIEW: War Horse spectacular takes to the stage at The Alhambra

A scene from Warhorse now being performed at the Alhambra in Bradford

A scene from Warhorse now being performed at the Alhambra in Bradford

First published in News
Last updated
Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Leisure and Lifestyle Editor

War Horse
The Alhambra

There has been much reflection this year on the massive loss of human life on the battlefields of France a century ago.

But alongside the men crawling through mud and tangled in wire were a million horses, sent to France between 1914 and 1918. Barely 60,000 returned.

Thousands of horses used in the First World War were killed or wounded by gunfire, or poison gas, maimed by blades, or starved when food ran low. Of those that survived, most ended up in French butchers’ shops.

In War Horse we are offered a soul-stirring glimpse of a horse’s experience of war. The powerful National Theatre production blends remarkable puppetry with haunting folk songs and striking artwork, following a farm horse’s journey from a sunkissed Devon paddock to the brutal battlefields of northern France.

Caught in enemy crossfire, Joey ends up serving on both sides, charging with the British then used by German cavalry to pull ambulances and weaponry. Lying about his age, farm boy Albert is also caught up in the bloodshed, trying desperately to find his beloved horse.

Nick Stafford’s memorable adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s novel blends the horror and chaos of warfare with the simplicity of a children’s story about a boy and his horse.

The terrific Handspring Puppet Company brings Joey and other horses beautifully to life, as snorting, galloping, loving and tormented animals, responding to noises around them with a flick of the ear or a jerk of the head as a real horse would.

We soon see Joey as a real horse, so when he’s caught in barbed wire in No Man’s Land it’s almost unbearable to watch.

The action is set to a large projection of sketches by designer Rae Smith, drawing on various war art influences, morphing from a rural English landscape to a sky filled with fire.

A strong cast is headed by Lee Armstrong, Peter Ash, James Alper, Nisa Cole, Karen Henthorn and David Fleeshman.

A beautifully staged production, all the more poignant in this centenary year.

Runs until June 14.

Comments (5)

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2:07pm Wed 28 May 14

bcfc1903 says...

Looks superb, the Alhambra certainly attracts some fantastic shows to the City of Bradford. Great that this show comes with centenary of the start of the First World war a few months away. Great job to all those involved in attracting this play to our great city!!!!
Looks superb, the Alhambra certainly attracts some fantastic shows to the City of Bradford. Great that this show comes with centenary of the start of the First World war a few months away. Great job to all those involved in attracting this play to our great city!!!! bcfc1903
  • Score: 5

6:44pm Wed 28 May 14

Whatthejuice says...

Alhambra is too expensive, Bradford council tax payers should have at least a 25% discount on tickets.
Alhambra is too expensive, Bradford council tax payers should have at least a 25% discount on tickets. Whatthejuice
  • Score: -1

12:15pm Thu 29 May 14

dshaw71 says...

War Horse is a powerful and brilliant show ... would recommend going to see it!!!
War Horse is a powerful and brilliant show ... would recommend going to see it!!! dshaw71
  • Score: 0

11:27pm Sat 31 May 14

Nettleton1960 says...

War horse best ticket deals
War horse best ticket deals Nettleton1960
  • Score: 0

11:29pm Sat 31 May 14

Nettleton1960 says...

Best deals for tickets for war horse ????
Best deals for tickets for war horse ???? Nettleton1960
  • Score: 0

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