Larger Than Life

I started my journalism career as a features and entertainment editor and spent 10 years supporting myself and my horse habit writing entertainment stories and reviewing movies and plays, before I morphed into equestrian journalism.? So, I was on doubly familiar territory when I went to see ?War Horse? last week at NYC?s Lincoln Center. This was the annual Day in the City, a present the committee members of the Youth Dressage Festival give ourselves every spring.? I prepared for the outing by finding the original Young Adult book of ?War Horse,? by Michael Morporgo, at the library. ?Spoiler Alert — ?I went straight to the back of the book, because I just didn’t want to see a play about horses that had a sad ending.? Reassured, I bought tickets. ?War Horse? has been a huge success on the London stage and has just been imported to the U.S.? In the meantime, Steven Spielberg has done a feature film, due to be released at Christmas.? I don’t think I’m going to want to see the movie ? the play is stylized enough to remove the horror of the story, set in World War I, and allow the viewer to enjoy the interaction between the amazing puppet horses and the humans.? I’m afraid that a live-action film will make the war part of the story just too real. The script of the play isn?t so great but, having said that, the production of ?War Horse? may be the best theater experience I’ve had.? It was certainly the most engrossing, and the reason is the amazing puppets that have been created to portray the horses.? You can see them on You Tube videos.? Just calling them puppets isn?t quite right.? They are stylized horses, beautifully nuanced, actually larger than life so that they always dominate the stage action.? Just a flick of an ear, a flash of an eye or a shiver of skin expresses their feelings, although they move around the stage beautifully as well.? And, they’re quiet ? how often have you seen a TV show or movie where the horses are always neighing, mostly at times when horses just don’t neigh’ I sat on the edge of my seat through the entire production and, yes, cried at the end.? The next morning I was watching my mare moving around and comparing her to wonderful puppets I’d seen the day before.? Yep, I thought, they got it right. ?War Horse? will be playing at Lincoln Center for two years and is sure to go on tour.? See it.

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