Saturday 28th July 2018, back at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, for the last two performances of ‘War Horse’ before it moves to another venue. Having the opportunity to watch this superb show eight times has been just phenomenal. So many different emotions come to light throughout, and even though I’ve watched many times, I still get that buzz every show.
Today I want to talk about the magnificent puppets used by this production. The use of puppet birds are the first we see as the opening sequence begins, followed by young Joey. The attention to detail on the horses are amazing, with great precision by the puppeteers to make everything realistic in the way the horses move. Young Joey sets the scene with some funny moments before the entry of the older Joey, a huge puppet horse, so realistic you forget that there are three actors operating it. Watching the Horse you realise very quickly the range of movement the main characters have been given, with the puppeteers able to move almost every part of the body when required. The choreography between puppet and other actors is just incredible to watch, interacting so perfectly from scene to scene.
The puppetry in act two becomes more incredible as the two horses appear even more lifelike when they set about staying alive during a ghastly war. The pulling of the field gun scenes are worthy of watching alone, just to visualise the sheer effort put into making this staging appear as realistic as possible. We even see a bond between the two horses form as the war goes on, adding yet another impressive realistic part to the show. I must mention the animal noises made by the puppeteers as they go through the show, again so realistic and helping the illusion of how real the horses actually look.
A final mention to the Goose, whose role is perfect to the comic relief in the first act, as we see Joey growing up with Alberts help. It really does make a huge difference to the way the show builds. An absolute epic production, brilliantly made and produced for the stage. Can’t wait for next tour.
Saturday 21st July 2018, another glorious weekend and a trip to the Theatre for two more performances of ‘ War Horse’, at the magnificent setting of the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. Last week I talked about the production side along with the technical aspects of the show, today I’d like to look at the musical side to this drama, and the influence it has on this amazing play.
Most plays I’ve seen do not have a soundtrack as moving as this has. The opening sequence has a calming effect on proceedings with a beautiful piece of music set to represent the early morning before the fabulous voice of Bob Fox enters the fray, with his soothing Devonshire voice and accordion by his side, he almost narrates the story (in song) as the play moves along, the sequence then continues with the whole cast appearing on stage, joining in with the opening song, so superb to watch and brilliant to listen to. As the scenes progress the music links nicely to the scene it portrays, beautiful melodies as we see Joey and Albert bond over training and beyond.
Towards the end of act one, we see the mood of the music changes, from happy melodies to the brutal reality of war. Continuing in act two as the war progresses. Again superb pieces only this time more robust in nature depicting just how harrowing the First World War must have been for all those who were forced to participate in such violent years. The music adds so much tension to the war scenes, but the voice of Bob Fox appears throughout the act, seemingly calming everything down for a few moments before the intensity begins again, with loud explosions and gunfire filing the auditorium, the dramatic musical infill between these sections helps with the fluency if each scene, making it seem film like in it’s essence.
If you mix the fabulous music with the superb technical aspects of the show, you get a really amazing piece of theatrical magic happening on stage in front of your very eyes. Probably the best I’ve seen for a non musical production. Can’t wait to see it again, if I’m honest.
Saturday 14th July 2018, another glorious weekend is upon us, and back to Cardiff Bay and the magnificent Millennium Centre, for two performances of another of my ultimate favourite stage productions in ‘War Horse’. After last weeks double show, I have to make the same decision and repeat the feat. When a show this good comes to a theatre so close to home, you have to make the effort to watch as many times as you are able to, for me that’s every weekend on its run in Cardiff.Today I’m looking at the production side of this Play, the technical aspect of putting this together is just phenomenal. The Horses look spectacular, the detail in their mannerisms, all achieved by the puppeteers running them (which after a while you actually forget they are even there) just blow you away, I could sit and watch them for hours.
The scenes during the war can be pretty harrowing in places, but that adds so much to the production, telling you how barbaric that part of world history actually was. The choreography during these scenes were superb, with actors placed strategically around the stage to assist with following scenes, seamlessly interwoven during the play. To get everyone in the right place at the right time is such a feat to accomplish, but this show gets it right every time I watch.
Another impressive technical assist for the show is the sound and lighting. From the start the lighting focuses on the spot you need to be looking at, mainly on puppetry and keeping you there for the remainder of the show. The sound is also exemplary, especially in the war scenes, with huge explosions, gun fire and a great musical soundtrack to add to the occasion. Put these two together and the whole story comes alive in front of you, almost transporting you to the harrowing scenes contained in the War itself. I must also mention the amazing sound the horses produce throughout the play, even the hooves seem real as they move around the stage, along with the other horsey sounds made by said cast.
The whole show is sheer brilliance from start to finish, and I still want to watch over and over, next weekend I will get the chance to do it all again.
Saturday 7th July 2018, and I’m back in Cardiff Bay for two performances of ‘War Horse’ at the Millennium Centre. I absolutely love this amazing show, I’ve seen it before on its previous visit to the Bay, then it just blew me away. It’s got so much going for it, a great storyline, with scenes of comedy, heartache, and triumph all rolled into one, the amazing Puppetry on show really adds some sheen to each performance.One of the Musical highlights for me is the role of the Song Man with the brilliant voice of Bob Fox, adding a musical treat at strategic intervals throughout this incredible show.
Amazing choreography between the cast and puppets also add to the spectacle, making me forget that the horses are actually puppets and not controlled by three people. I’m also emotionally drained after watching two shows, I’ve laughed, cried and felt so many different emotions throughout the day, but it’s worth it just to see this beautiful show.
So looking forward now to next weekend and the chance to watch ‘War Horse’ all over again. knowing myself I’ll probably cry and laugh in exactly the same places as I managed today, we shall see.