Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review of War Horse (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time, I went to a show and it was called War Horse. It is about a horse named Joey (Laurabeth Breya, Catherine Gowl, Nick Lamedica, Christopher Mai, Derek Stratton, and Rob Laqui) who traveled to different masters and what kinds of lives he had at those different places. It is also about how war is terrible and lots of people died, and how you shouldn't use horses to carry people around in war because horses have feelings too. Albert (Andrew Veenstra) was a person who understood how an animal really was and how he needed to be treated. Joey and Albert's relationship was like they were relatives because people would tease Albert about how they were fighting for their moms, their dad, or their girlfriend, and he was fighting for his horse.

The horses I thought were amazing. When the foal came on stage I felt like I was going to faint. I really did; I thought, "That is soooo realistic!" The horses are of course not really horses or people in realistic horse suits. They are awesome and big puppets. They are made out of wire--so they are not exactly like you'd think a realistic horse would look; they don't have fur or spots like some horses do. It's the movement and the expression of who the horse really is that is so fantastic. All those puppeteers who played Joey and Topthorn (Jon Hoche, Danny Beiruti, and Aaron Haskell) were amazing and I think they did a fantastic job.

There was this really funny part where the mother Rose (Angela Reed) was reading a letter from her son Albert and he said, and my very handsome friend is writing this for me. But he didn't actually say that; the friend David (Alex More) put it in because he thought he was handsome. I think he was thinking that maybe someday he would make two copies of that letter and show it to his girlfriend. I liked David for two reasons. One, because he is funny and, two, because he is sort of smart. It makes me feel really sad that he died because he was like the comedy part of the war.

There were these two very touching parts with Mueller (Andrew May) and Emilie (Lavita Shaurice). Emilie was a little French girl that lived in a little farm house. Mueller was a German officer that didn't want to be a German officer anymore. He wanted to be somebody who wouldn't die because he had a daughter. So he disguises himself as somebody who carries people that are injured away. One of the touching parts was how Mueller had his own daughter and she looked so much like Emilie that it made him feel sad and want to go home to his daughter. And the second touching part was when she said, "Don't let anything happen to Joey or Topthorn." And something did happen to Topthorn, but Joey did get hurt be he didn't die.

Joey and Albert's relationship was very realistic, I thought, because it seemed like that actor knew how to take really good care of animals and how to understand them. My favorite scene that they were in together was where Albert was teaching Joey how to plow. I thought it was really touching to see how they both got to learn how to do this work, but they did it together. I thought that was very beautiful. Every time that Albert does that simple whistle to call Joey, I actually might burst into tears because at the very beginning of the play he makes up that whistle and then just as he whistles the horse comes over and nudges him. It makes me feel like the relationship will really last forever.

The comedy in the play was the Goose (Jon Hoche). Even though he didn't have a very big part, he was the funniest character ever. One of my favorite things that the Goose did was when Rose was leaving the room and she slammed the door behind her and the Goose was right in front of the door and then his wings just dropped straight down like I thought he was saying "Well, I'm not going to get in there." When the Goose put down his wings, the whole audience was in laughter. I thought the Goose puppet was also very realistic and awesome.

Rae Smith must have been really stressed after doing all that work on the sets, costumes and drawings. I suspect she just collapsed flat on her face into the bed when she was done. I liked that the set looked like a surrender banner that had been ripped and how the projections (by 59 Productions) worked perfectly on that screen. They could take you to a house, to a battlefield, or to a hospital, so it could really take you anywhere that you wanted. There was this great scene where two officers were riding on the horses. You could see the officers riding, but you could also see the British riding up on the screen. You could see both sides even though the stage wasn't long enough to show that.

People that would like this show are people that like horses, drama, and bawling your eyes out. If you are comfortable feeling sad, happy, and being amazed and feeling like you are going to faint, you would would be comfortable seeing this show whatever your age is--except for babies, who would cry when the guns shot. This show is awesome!

Photos: Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

1 comment:

Brad @ IceCreamUScream said...

I really like your observation that the screen looked like a flag held in surrender. I hadn't made that connection when I saw the play in London a few years ago. Somehow I had forgotten all about the hilarious goose, but your description of the scene with the closed door helped me remember.

What I remember most about the production was sitting in the front row. The horses moved so realistically that it actually scared me at one part. I worried they were going to trample me! Fantastic puppeteers.