War Horse stage show features ground-breaking puppetry work by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, which brings breathing and galloping horses to life on stage with incredible nuances particular to each animal. Amazing as it seems, the ability of the puppeteers to blend with their animal puppets and become one with them, and the ability of an audience to suspend their disbelief in a theatrical performance make War Horse an emotional and moving experience. From the magnificence of horses Joey and Topthorn, to the cantankerous goose (who almost stole every scene in which it appeared), to the horrific carnage of the battlefield economically but effectively created with lighting and sound, this is an experience that has one crying at the deaths of the horses killed on the field, tense with expectation of Joey’s survival, and deeply saddened that the war to end all wars did not, in fact, end them.
A real ‘war horse’ was Warrior, the warhorse of General Jack Seely that served with him on the Western Front throughout the war, from 1914 to 1918. Warrior and Seely are depicted in a painting by Alfred Munnings in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Seely wrote a biography of his horse, My Horse Warrior, published in 1934. Warrior was honoured on 2 September 2014 with the Dickin Medal (awarded to animals showing courage and devotion to duty) in a posthumous honorary award to commemorate the contributions of all animals during the First World War. The medal, the 66th awarded, was presented to Seely’s grandson, Brough Scott, a horse racing broadcaster. Known as 'the horse the Germans couldn't kill,' Warrior survived the war, dying in 1941 at the age of 33. An obituary was printed in The Times, and Warrior features in a statue of Seely at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight.
|Alfred Munnings' painting|