REVIEW: War Horse at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

War Horse
War Horse
Cast members and the trio of dogs chosen. Credit: West Meon Theatre

Trio of prized pooches picked for upcoming theatre show

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The problem with War Horse from a critical point of view is that there is practically nothing to criticise.

Since 2007 the National Theatre version (currently sojourning at Mayflower Theatre) has gone from strength-to-strength and one can only stand in awe of the creatives, the actors and – above all – the puppeteers.

For those who have hitherto escaped War Horse in its many forms – book, play, film – it tells the story of 16-year old Albert and his horse, Joey. At the start of the First World War, Joey is sold to the army to fight in France. Albert vows to find him and volunteers to join up.

As Albert, Thomas Dennis convincingly gives us a frustrated child into determined adult. Other outstanding work from a truly great ensemble comes from Jo Castleton as Albert’s mum, Joelle Brabban as Emilie and Bob Fox, whose vocals are sublime.

But the show belongs to the puppeteers. I’m happy to name, specifically, Billy Irving who imbues a goose with real personality. Unfortunately, I cannot name the performers inside either Joey or Topthorn, our equine heroes, as they change from show to show – but these people take wood and canvas and metal and make them so real you forget you’re watching puppets.

Truly, truly brilliant. Truly, truly theatre.

Until June 9.