Saturday, 15 October 2011

Flawed Horse

I'm very very far from being the world's biggest theatre fan so when I heard Spielberg was adapting the play of War Horse into a blockbuster movie, I was thrilled to find out I wouldn't have to sit through two hours of puppets and thespians on a stage to see this epic story.  Ok so I could have hunted down the book but I'd heard it was y'know... for kids.

But then I was given tickets to see War Horse the play at the New London Theatre.  Initally I was skeptical.  But War Horse blew me away.  The puppets in this production are breathtaking, mind-boggling creations.  Along with with their devoted puppeteers who seem to be acting through the life-size puppets, the horses give astonishing performances, their movements right down to simply breathing are unbelievably realistic.  From a farmyard goose that gets big laughs to the young, old and starving horses that are at the centre of the narrative to the jaw-dropping tanks at the end, the theatre production is awe-inspiring, cinematic and incredibly emotional.

So in December, Spielberg releases his long-awaited adaptation and I can't help but worry.  The story was certainly not the best thing about the theatre production.  The puppets were.  This is one play that might just remain the definitive version of the War Horse story.

But perhaps I should stop being such a conservative soul and wait and see.  Spielberg is the master of cinema, rarely putting a foot wrong.  He's given us the horrors of war (Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List), the emotinal connection of a boy and his non-human companion (E.T.) and plenty of great horse-riding action in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  He's surrounded himself with a great cast of mostly Brits and let's face it, it can't be anywhere near as bad as that last bloody Indy film.

It makes me wonder though, what other plays should have been left in the theatre.  With The Woman in Black out in February, will this be another flawed adaptation or just another reason to choose cinema over the theatre?

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