Michael Morpurgo’s classic novel gets a powerful retelling with masterful puppetry and sensational performances in the National Theatre’s hit production – ★★★★★

When it comes to stage adaptations of some of the biggest novels in modern literature, the National Theatre has made a name for itself. The smash hit The Curious Incident of the Dog of the Night-Time has returned to the West End, and the equally successful War Horse returns to the Southbank to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Man riding a wooden puppet horse.
Albert Narracott (Thomas Dennis) is the farm boy looking after affectionate horse Joey in this hit production. Photo: Brinkhoff & Mögenburg.

Morpurgo’s tale about a horse named Joey and its experience of war is incredibly illustrated through Rae Smith’s drawings and the Handspring Puppet Company’s stunning designs. Their masterful puppetry, together with sensational acting and an original score, makes for a truly immersive theatrical experience.

Musician Adrian Sutton, who also provided the imaginative soundtrack to The Curious Incident, joins forces with songwriter John Tams to create the emotive music and songs for this production, with verses perfectly delivered on stage by Song Man Bob Fox.

Fox joins a stellar all-round cast in the production, but it is Thomas Dennis and Peter Becker’s performances as Albert and Friedrich respectively which are outstanding. Dennis’ portrayal as the chirpy country boy makes his relationship with Joey all the more emotional, while Becker’s role as the German soldier offers equal amounts of charm in a play which also has its shocking and moving moments.

After attracting audiences for years, War Horse‘s story gains a haunting new meaning in 2018, 100 years after Armstice Day.

War Horse is now playing at the Lyttleton Theatre until 5 January 2019.