Arts & Entertainment

War Horse

Photo: Brinkhoff Mögenburg

The National Theatre of Great Britain’s Olivier and Tony-Award winning production of War Horse returns to Sydney and audiences should be enchanted by this uniquely spectacular piece of theatre which has won more than 25 international awards.

This story about friendship, love, loyalty, family and trust surrounds a young man’s quest to find his horse which has been sold to the cavalry and shipped to France during World War I.

Matthew Forbes is credited as the Associate Puppetry Director and has worked on the show for 10 years. His job is to audition performers from all different backgrounds. “I then work extensively with the cast during the rehearsal period to get them to perform the puppetry we need in the show to the highest of standards.”

When asked whether the puppetry aspect of the show is an ambitious process he quickly responded. “Absolutely! It’s a mammoth task bringing a puppet horse to life on stage! Handspring Puppet Company, the original directors and designers of our beautiful horses have created truly mesmerising puppets. They look like horses, move like horses, but the real challenge is making sure they think and respond like horses.”

The puppeteers are never hidden during the show. Three puppeteers operate each horse, but Forbes emphasised this will not hinder the enjoyment of the show. “When the three of them work together they bring the puppet to life with incredible accuracy and detail. Their eyeline is completely focused on the puppet, this level of focus and the passion in which they perform quickly means that the audience is able to suspend their belief and the puppeteers seem to vanish.”

War Horse has found phenomenal success worldwide, now seen by over eight million people in 11 countries including the UK, Ireland, North America and China. But why does this show resonate with audiences?

“This production appeals to all, it truly is a piece of beautiful theatre suitable for the entire family. The puppetry, songs, lighting, sound, set and costume design are all truly stunning. I think seeing the story come to life in front of you is part of the magic of War Horse. You see the puppet horses, you know they’re not real, but very quickly you’re completely immersed in the story, breathing along with the horse, sitting at the edge of your seat and wiping away the tears at the end!” (MMo)

** Refer to website for the complete interview with Matthew Forbes**              

Feb 15–Mar 13. Lyric Theatre, 55 Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont. $59-$205+b.f.. Tickets & Info: www.warhorseonstage.com.au