Back to 2013
8 August 2013 matinee, New London Theatre, London
(I apologize I’m not much satisfied on my English below, I’ll try to make it better asap)
I saw the matinee the 8th of August 2013.
Before to see this play, I had already seen the movie, so I couldn’t help noticing some differences between the two versions. While I hadn’t read the novel, yet. I’m relieved there weren’t some scenes they used in the movie, which would have been too sentimental and unnecessary in the play.
You can’t imagine how this play could be before to see it, pictures don’t give it justice. Before to book for it, I wondered how they could have brought real horses on stage. I was amazed when I found out from the official site that they made proper puppets to reproduce the animals. So this play not only requires a great acting job from the actors. It also required fine artisan work for the costumes and the puppets.
The movements of the horses are so very natural, even the ears, the manes and the tails move in every step the horses make, they got sweet eyes that seem real.
The story started the 5th of August 1912 and later went to the 5th of August 1914 and then to the end of First World War.
On the empty stage, a man started to sing, while an officer, who later we find out to be Captain Nicholls, was drawing on his little book, like real officers used to do during the war.
Then we saw when Albert’s father bought Joey to use him to help his family with the work at the farm. The actors were bringing the pieces of a wooden fence and inside there was the young Joey.
I loved to see the whole part when Albert and Joey become friends. The little horse seemed real! And there was my favorite scene, when the foal went away and the adult one came out galloping in all his glory, called by Albert.
Then the war time came, the set was dark so the audience could get the atmosphere. There was the moving scene of the death of Cap. Nicholls: he was carried from the horse to the ground by shadows and there he stayed until the end of act one.
Some scenes were played in slow motion, like in a movie, to underline the tragedy of war. In a scene, wounded soldiers came, their faces covered with a black mask, their arms cut, and it gave me shivers.
Some other scenes had irony, a goose on wheels helped to create some funny moments, as each time it appeared it tried to enter inside the Narracott’s home and lost feathers in the effort.
Between the good performances, my favorite were:
- Sion Daniel Young as Albert Narracott
- Alex Avery as Captain Nicholls, here as charming as he was in the movie
- Ian Shaw as Friedrich Müller, maybe my very favorite, in the movie there were two German soldiers instead of him, brothers in the story
- Zoe Thorne as Emilie
and of course my other favorite characters were Joey, Topthorn and the goose!
Some notes about the staging:
The set design was very simple, there was a whole empty stage with a revolving platform in the middle.
Walls were dark, but there was a break above where some images of seasons and battles were projected.
There were some real objects, like a bucket Albert used to feed Joey.
The puppets were played by two-three actors each. The two main horses were complete, while the secondary ones were made with less details. Some soldiers were just puppets. There were also a goose and some birds made with the same puppetry technique.
There was a plough and the plowed soil was reproduced by a cloth.
The scene with the panzer was effective and made with just a metallic frame.
Costumes of early XX Century and WWI uniforms were detailed and had warm colors, colors of the country and the ground: brown, brick-red, olive-green, gray.
Actors from the ensemble sang what sounded like traditional songs, while there was strong instrumental music during the most dramatic scenes.
Now, if you want to read further….
2013 Cast and Creatives and their Twitter accounts:
Sion Daniel Young (Albert Narracott) @siondanielyoung
Gareth Aled (Joey/Topthorn Head)
Nigel Allen (Joey/Topthorn Head)
Anthony Antunes (Topthorn Hind)
Derek Arnold (Joey/Topthorn Hind)
Alex Avery (Captain Nicholls)
Oliver Beamish (Sergeant Allan)
Richard Booth (Topthorn Head)
Alistair Brammer (Billy Narracott)
Ashleigh Cheadle (Baby Joey)
Eke Chukwu (Rudi)
Darren Cockrill (Joey/Topthorn Heart)
Ewen Cummins (Chapman Carter/Soldat Schmidt)
Tamsin Fessey (Baby Joey)
Nicholas Hart (Joey Head)
Paul Hawkyard (Sergeant Thunder)
Tom Hodgkins (Arthur Narracott)
Jamie Kenna (Ted Narracott)
Pieter Lawman (John Greig)
Andrew London (Joey Heart)
Brian Lonsdale (Thomas Bone)
Josh McCord (David Taylor)
Dogan Mehmet (Songman)
Tom Meredith (Goose/Unteroffizier Klebb)
Ben Murray (Songman)
Steve North (Dr. Schweyk/Sergeant Fine)
Lewis Peploe (Joey/Topthorn Hind)
Sergio Priftis (Topthorn Heart)
William Rycroft (Captain Stewart)
Jack Sandle (Gefreiter Karl)
Ian Shaw (Friedrich Muller)
Michael Taibi (Joey/Topthorn Heart)
Zoe Thorne (Emilie)
Emma Thornett (Baby Joey/Paulette)
Josie Walker (Rose Narracott)
Brendan Wall (Vet Martin/Priest/Johann Schnabel
Sam Wilmott (Joey Hind)
Based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo
Adapted by Nick Stafford
Directors: Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris
Designer and Drawings: Rae Smith
Puppet Design and Fabrication: Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler for Handspring Puppet Company
Lighting Designer: Paule Constable
Director of Movement: Toby Sedgwick
Songmaker: John Tams
Music: Adrian Sutton @adriansutton
Sound Designer: Christopher Shutt
Video Designers: Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer
War Horse On Stage official website: warhorseonstage.com
War Horse page on National Theatre official website: nationaltheatre.org.uk
New London Theatre page on National Theatre official website: nationaltheatre.org.uk
Handspring Puppet Company official website: handspringpuppet.co.za
2011 War Horse Education Pack: thelowry.com
Productions (source: Wikipedia, I need to confirm them)
National Theatre (2007–09)
West End (2009–)
Toronto, Canada (2012–2013)
Australian Tour (2012–)
Berlin, Germany (2013–2014)
South Africa (2014-)
Film adaptation: War Horse by Steven Spielberg, released on 25 December 2011
War Horse at the Proms: on 3 August 2014 a special production of War Horse was presented at the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, London.
Will try to find other cast lists, for the London productions at least.
2007 original production: Albert was played for the first time by Luke Treadaway
National Theatre, Olivier – 17th October 2007 to 14th February 08
Major Nicholls : Jamie Ballard
Swallow/Emilie : Alice Barclay
Chapman Carter/ Rudi : Jason Barnett
Sgt Bone/ Col Strauss/ Sgt Fine : James Barriscale
Capt. Stewart/Soldat Schmidt : Simon Bubb
Goose/ Topthorn/ Veterinary Officer Martin : Finn Caldwell
David Taylor/ Soldat Schultz : Paul Chequer
Song Man : Tim van Eyken
Young Joey/ Topthorn : Thomas Goodridge
Dr Schweyk/ Coco, a horse/ Geordie : Stephen Harper
Rose Narracott/ Private Shaw : Thusitha Jayasundera
Veterinary Officer Bright/ Karl : Gareth Kennerley
Crow/ Joey : Craig Leo
Young Joey/ Emilie : Rachel Leonard
Topthorn/ Major Callaghan : Tim Lewis
Joey : Tommy Luther
Young Joey/ Emilie : Mervyn Millar
Paulette/ Crow : Emily Mytton
Swallow/ Joey/ Crow : Toby Olie
Ted Narracott/ Coco, a horse : Toby Sedgwick
Ned Warren : Ashley Taylor-Rhys/ Heine, a horse
Albert Narracott : Luke Treadaway
Sergeant Thunder/ Soldat Klebb : Howard Ward
Arthur Warren/ Soldat Manfred : Alan Williams
Heine, a horse/ Ensemble : Matthew Woodyatt
Hauptmann Friedrich Muller : Angus Wright
National Theatre, Olivier – From 10 Sep 2008 to 18 March 2009
New London Theatre – From 3 April 2009, previews from 28 March 2009, to…. 2009
Albert Narracott : Keith Harington
New London Theatre – From 9 March 2011 to….
Stuart Angell (Joey/Topthorn heart),
Nicholas Bishop (Captain Nicholls),
Joshua Blake (John Greig),
Hannah Boyde (Annie Gilbert),
Pascale Burgess (Paulette),
Ellie Burrow (Baby Joeyheart/hind) ,
Matt Costain (Topthorn hind),
Ewen Cummins (Chapman Carter/Colonel Strauss/Soldat Schmidt),
Danny Dalton (David Taylor),
Salvatore D’Aquila (Klebb/Sentry Shaw),
Christian Jenner (Dr Schweyk/Heine heart/Sgt. Fine),
Curtis Jordan (Topthorn head/Goose),
Shaun McKee (Joey/Topthorn heart/Geordie),
Jack Monaghan (Albert Narracott),
Jack Parker (Baby Joey heart/hind/Coco heart),
Patrick Robinson (Friedrich Muller),
Saul Rose (Songman),
Mat Ruttle (Bone/Heine hind),
Eliot Short (Fiddler),
Nicola Stephenson (Rose Narracott),
David Walmesley (Billy Narracott/Coco hind/Ludwig).
Nigel Betts (Arthur Narracott/Sgt. Thunder),
Emily Cooper (Joey and Topthorn hind/ensemble),
Matthew Forbes (Joeyhind),
David Grewcock (Joey/Topthorn head),
Stephen Harper (Joey/Topthorn head/Goose/Geordie),
Nicolas Karimi (Topthorn heart/Geordie),
Sarah Mardel (Baby Joey head/Emilie),
Malcolm Ridley (Sgt.Allan/Schnabel/Manfred),
Ruth Rogers (Joeyhead),
William Rycroft (Captain Stewart/Rudi),
Anthony Shuster (Priest/Karl/Vet Martin),
Andy Williams (Ted Narracott),
Thomas Wilton (Joeyheart).
New London Theatre – From 16 November 2011 to….
Alex Avery (Captain Nicholls),
Joshua Blake (John Greig),
Pascale Burgess (Paulette),
Richard Cant (Priest / Friedrich Muller),
Sam Clark (Joey Hind),
Kate Colebrook (Baby Joey / Emilie),
Emily Cooper (Joey/Topthorn Hind / Goose),
Matt Costain (Topthorn Hind / Goose),
Ewen Cummins (Chapman Carter / Col. Strauss / Soldat Schmidtt),
Danny Dalton (David Taylor),
Matthew Forbes (Joey Head),
Bob Fox (Songman),
Thomas Goodridge (Joey/Topthorn Hind),
Owain Gwynn (Joey/Topthorn Heart),
Jack Holden (Albert Narracott),
Robert Horwell (Arthur Narracott / Sgt Thunder),
Christian Jenner (Dr Schweyk / Heine / Sgt Fine),
Luke Jerdy (Billy Narracott / Coco / Ludwig),
Curtis Jordan (Joey/Topthorn Head / Goose),
Louise Kempton (Annie Gilbert),
Dominic Leeder (Topthorn Heart),
Henry Maynard (Topthorn Head),
Shaun McKee (Joey/Topthorn Heart / Geordie),
Steve Nicolson (Ted Narracott),
Christopher Patrick Nolan (Gefreiter Karl / Vet Martin),
Jack Parker (Topthorn Head),
Malcolm Ridley (Sgt Allan / Soldat Manfred),
Mat Ruttle (Bone / Heine),
William Rycroft (Captain Stewart / Rudi),
Rachel Sanders (Rose Narracott),
Eliot Short (Klebb / Fiddler),
Meghan Treadway (Baby Joey),
John Trindle (Baby Joey),
Adam Welsh (Johann Schnabel / Sentry Shaw)
Tom Wilton (Joey Heart).
(to be continued)