Year 6 children at Bosham Primary School sharpened their critical faculties after a trip to see the acclaimed stage show War Horse.
They put their thoughts and emotions on paper to produce a fascinating collection of reviews which we are delighted to reprint here.
Observer arts editor Phil Hewitt said: “I loved reading these. I had better watch out for my job!
The pupils produced some terrific reviews full of very honest and direct responses. The great thing about reviewing is that it forces you to concentrate - sometimes not my strong point!
“By writing these reviews the children have really made the most of their trip to the theatre.”
War Horse – Review
By Alice Marchant and Bethany Ifould
As soon as the singing started and the stage was set, everybody knew that War Horse would be an unforgettable performance. Nick Strafford has adapted Michael Morpurgo’s novel exceptionally well. Involving humour, sadness and realistic fighting scenes, the original puppets and simple set gave a theatre production of a life time. It is a story that tries to bring friendship back together after Albert and his beloved horse, Joey, are separated by the war.
The puppets, made by Handspring Puppet’s Company, are so life-like – by the interval the people inside are unnoticeable. All of the seats give an outstanding view (however we don’t recommend sitting in the front: you’ll get a wave of smoke in your face!). The music and sets were surprising but effective, with surrounding actors transforming into character. With clever hands, the puppeteers accurately re-create the movements of horses and other animals.
The New London Theatre offers a perfect family outing, although battle scenes may upset young children. Despite this, War Horse is an unmissable experience, showing futile war, endless pain and everlasting hope. It is a must-see for adults and children alike. For this, we proudly rate it a 10/10.
War Horse Review
By William Watts-Jones and Ollie Sturge
This spellbinding performance will take your breath away with its astonishing puppets and delightfully dramatic storyline based on one of Michael Morpurgo’s best-selling novels: War Horse. At the new London Theatre, Sion Daniel Young , Ian Shaw and an almighty group of puppeteers star in this outstanding play.
A young foal, called Joey, gets sold in an auction to a drunk and irritable man named Mr Ted Narracot and his son Albert, a kind-hearted and caring 14 year old. Albert and Joey develop a great bond of friendship until war starts and Ted selfishly sells him away to the army: will Albert be able to find his beloved Joey again or will they be separated forever?
This is a truly unforgettable performance with awe-inspiring effects, as well as fantastic acting and touching scenes, which guarantee you never forget the hardship of war. But above all, the most phenomenal aspects were the puppets and script, with the horses rearing up to full height and the book expertly adapted to script by Nick Stafford.
Overall, this was a fantastic experience; we highly recommend that you go and see it, however… do not sit in the front row, as smoke billows from pipes into the room which goes straight onto your face and becomes quite irritating see, as it blocks out your view of the scene. However, apart from that, it’s a 10/10 performance!
By Jasmine De Trafford & Amber Dodd
This astonishing production Of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse, adapted to theatre by Nick Stafford, will leave anybody stunned. This play will truly bring out all your emotions from joyful to broken hearted, as well as teaching you a vital message about the devastating actions in WWI. The well-chosen actors will positively make you believe you are at war. Even though throughout the play, war was going on, you can really see that true friendship can never be broken.
This heroic and tragic story is about a courageous boy, Albert Narracott, and his extraordinary horse, Joey. In the beginning, Albert’s father, Ted Narracott, buys Joey at an auction. Whilst at home, in Devon, Albert takes Joey under his wing: he trains him, looks after him and best of all, loves him. When the terrible war breaks out, Alberts father takes the opportunity to get money for the farm by selling Joey to the war…Suddenly, Joey finds himself all alone in some sticky situations. Will Joey ever see Albert again?
At first you notice the puppeteers (from Handspring Puppets Company) for the animals, but as the mood sets in, they vanish completely. Sion Daniel Young plays Albert perfectly, showing the emotions of a young boy in his situation. You can understand the actors by their faces – even when they are speaking French and German! The stage is incredible with its amazing, yet simple props; something that did especially stand out was a sheet of material at the top of the stage representing a piece of paper ripped out of a book by Albert.
Overall, it is a heart moving, inspiring production that is definitely worth a trip to The New London theatre. Finally, we would mark this 10/10 but we must give you the advice to bring tissues! If you live near Southampton this play will be shown in the Mayflower next year.
Yasmin Jones, 11, and Lola Cahill, 11
Have you ever wished you could see the most powerful play ever? Running wild with imagination, Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse is recommended to anyone and is guaranteed to move the heart. This mind-blowing performance is fraught with love, loss and shows never-ending friendship during the horrors of the First World War, where many men lost their lives.
This astonishing story is about a young boy, Albert Narracott (played by Sion Daniel Young), his Mother and Father – Rose Narracott and Ted Narracott (Josie Walker and Jamie Kenna). Living on a farm, Mr Narracott buys a foal. As he returns back home, his curious son Albert immediately sets eyes on the marvellous red-bay horse and they make a strong bond. As they grow up together, Albert names the foal Joey. Sadly, the first war breaks out and Alberts father takes the chance of selling Joey to the army. He is no longer an ordinary horse. He is a War Horse…
In addition, the genius puppeteers, The HandString Company, are absolutely sensational. Being made out of bamboo, Joey and later on Topthorn (another War Horse), gives the impression as if they are real! The outstanding sound effects and music creates a spellbinding atmosphere which no one would like to leave. The actors tell the story by their own faces and the set is alive with magic.
In conclusion, we thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. However, we wouldn’t recommend it to small children as some of the battle scenes are quite violent. Over all, Nick Stafford (who adapted the novel to the play script) and everyone involved has made this play come to life before our eyes!
By Barney Lines-Hembrey and Pierce Brennan
As the music kicked in, the audience all wondered if they would get their money’s worth…but we certainly did! The theatre production of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse (adapted by Nick Stafford) is based on a true story during World War I, in which a boy and his horse are separated by war, but bound by friendship. Throughout the play, the characters make unbreakable bonds that will last forever!
Albert, a seventeen year old boy, who brought up Joey -a red-bay colt from South Devon- during his young years, was horrified when he was sold to go to war. When he arrives in the midst of the soulless war, he realises that half of the soldiers don’t even know why or what they are fighting for. He meets new friends, including a black stallion called Topthorn, who takes care of him through the horrid times of the war, but sadly most of them die. However, Joey continues to have one wish: to be reunited with Albert.
The way the Hand Spring Puppet Company made the horses and other animals, out of bamboo rods, was strange but as the play went on they became more and more realistic. The actors were perfectly in character and made you feel as if you were part of the show. The puppeteers turned and twisted about 7 horses, 2 crows, I geese and 2 birds. The use of actors holding up scenery worked effectively because it gives a more limited effect…as if most of the props had been taken to war. The set was incredible and as huge burnt trees came down, during a scene in no man’s land, you felt a sense of dread.
However, it isn’t a very good idea to sit in the front couple of rows as when they use smoke as tear gas, it is an extreme amount which will make you cough and splutter. War Horse is a fantastic production for the family, but does include a small amount of strong language and violence. We would strongly recommend War Horse and we rate it a staggering 10/10.
Review: War Horse New London Theatre
By: Phoebe Duncan-Duggal age 11, Harry Jezzard age 10.
Based on the widely popular Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse, the play has been adapted by the brilliant Nick Stafford.
This breath-taking performance is heartrending, with a dramatic storyline. A contrast of love and fear, which fills the audience with touching emotions. The theatrical magic tells a story of an astonishing horse that is forced to go to war. An extraordinary friendship leads a young boy and his horse to a truly tragic experience. The adrenaline set the audience alive. This is an inspiring performance and we promise you, it will be the best show you will ever watch.
The storyline sets WWI off all over again as you see the hardships of the early 1900’s. Mr Narracott buys a foal, Joey, at an auction. His curious son, Albert, grows to love Joey like a brother. When war breaks out Joey is obliged to go to war, but that doesn’t stop Joey and Albert’s friendship from growing and growing…
The stage is more than a stage: it’s a battle scene! Electricity isn’t needed in this spellbinding performance as the puppets come to life before your eyes…The puppeteers bring the effective bamboo frames to life, transforming them into living, breathing creatures.
Having trained for years, Sion Daniel Young (as Albert Narracott) is brilliant, showing all the emotions. He could tell the story just with his face, if he had to!
But it’s the music that topped it off. It constantly changed as the moods changed from uplifting to upsetting.
So, will you think that this extraordinary performance deserves all the hype? We certainly do!
Written by Megan Budd and Emily McCulloch
War Horse is an engaging and moving play, which will fill your mind with something totally unexpected. The outstanding performance is based on a true story about a young horse (Warrior) that went through so much pain on his journey to victory, in World War I. It is a story involving laughter and broken hearts.
The story is about a young boy called Albert Narracott and his Father Ted Narracott. His father gets drunk one night and instead of buying the calf he was supposed to, he bought a foal. As Joey grows up Albert takes responsibility to make sure that he turns out to be a strong and healthy horse. Sadly, Joey soon gets sold to become a war horse as the Narracott family struggle to find the money for the mortgage. Will Albert and Joey ever find each other again?
The set was clearly laid out and not over detailed and very few props made the stage easy to move around on. As the floor spun round in front of your eyes, it made the performance very effective.
The actors’ expressions were at the top of my list for everything that made this play good! These are the actors we thought played best: Zoe Thomas played Emile and Sion Daniel Young played Albert Narracott. They all played their characters feelings strongly.
Posted on 21 March 2012
Written by Thomas Sinanan, Liam Nugent and Jack Mayor
Have you ever wondered how a puppet could come alive? Now you can see it for yourself! We recommend the play War Horse greatly. It’s really emotional, realistic and sometimes humorous - especially the goose which always tried to get into the farmhouse but never succeeded.
War Horse is all about a horse called Joey, who was separated from his mother then from his beloved Albert. It is a story about how violent and devastating war is, as well as the sacrifices the soldiers and animals made. But will they reunite in the end?
The actors were magnificent, Emilie – Zoe Thorns was really acting the part, Albert Narracott – Sion Daniel Young was superb.
We recommend it a lot. You should definitely watch it!
War Horse Review
By Constance Stockman and Alice West
The award-winning writer, Michael Morpurgo, has one of his books brought to life by theatre magic. War Horse is a sad, but engaging story about a young boy, Albert, aged 13 and his beloved horse, Joey. Based around the horrific World War I, the story follows their lives and how they try desperately to be reunited. In years to come, we will probably see more of his spellbinding books also come to life…
The puppets that form all animals are incredible! Although you can see the people controlling them at the beginning, by the end you barely notice they are there. Designed and made by the Hand String and Puppet Company, these magnificent puppets are brought to life. The main structure is made of bamboo and mechanical parts to help the puppeteers to move every part so realistically.
All the actors played their part extremely well and made everyone in the theatre fell that they were there too, by not just using the stage and coming into the audience.
This is an unmissable production that all ages (apart from the battle scenes, which some young children might find upsetting) and all personalities would enjoy!
Review: War Horse
By Molly Goldsmith and Alice Parker.
War Horse is a mind blowing theatrical experience of a horse named Joey and a boy named Albert. This remarkable production sets the scene on a dark, mystic and dramatic stage. The script has been edited and adapted by Nick Stafford.
This fantastic performance is based on a true story, a horse named Warrior, a true hero. This play involves humour, moving and lively experiences suitable for all ages (although some scenes may be scary for younger children).
Joey is an astonishing puppet, made out of bamboo frames. He has two men inside: one controlling the back legs and tail, the other controlling the front legs, as well as a man controlling the head, neck and ears. Topthorn is made the same, apart from he’s black. When the humour comes, the white goose takes over the stage, rushing to the door in its determination to get the warmth and comfort of the farm house. All these animals were made by Handspring Puppet’s Company.
Sion Daniel Young was the actor of Albert Narracott. He fitted and played the role perfectly. Jamie Kenna fitted the drunk and at times unpleasant character of Ted Narracott. Josie Walker played Rose Narracott in a loving but firm way. You won’t forget the adorable Emilie played by Zoe Thorne!