I’ve never been a horse person, yet somehow I’ve managed to find myself at an unreasonable number of equine performances.
It started with my disturbing desire to see “Equus” on Broadway, partially in an effort to catch a glimpse of Harry Potter’s peen (curse me), but, perhaps more disturbingly, an attraction to seeing a play about a boy with a sexual obsession with horses. It was just too weird-sounding not to check out. I “rushed” it with a friend and have no regrets. Sure, there were horses involved–not my thing–but Radcliffe’s performance was just outstanding.
Follow that up with a stint doing PR for Cavalia, during which I saw both the Atlanta performance and some sort of press event, and I was kind of horse’d out. I’m sure it would have been much more impressive to see horses walking backward and people doing flips on top of them if I’d known anything about the animals, but it just wasn’t for me.
Cut to “War Horse” at the Fox, which opened Tuesday night. I kicked myself for once again attending some equestrian event, and I had horror flashbacks to the 5 press releases I had written for Cavalia, with exceptional headlines varying from:
Equestrian Horse Odyssey Gallops Into Atlanta
Journey of Equine Proportions Extends Its Run
No Horsin’ Around: Atlanta Extends Cavalia’s Run a Second Time
Okay, I just made all of those up, but that was the gist of the headlines.
I had heard rumors of the crazy-amazing puppetry of “War Horse,” but let’s face it: there are fewer “puppet enthusiasts” out there than there are horse people, and I don’t fall into that category. Couple that with war, which, as you may recall from my insane post about “HAIR” a few months ago, I’m no fan of.
Needless to say, I came in with low expectations. But I was blown away.
“War Horse” tells the story of a boy, his horse, and their unwavering dedication to be together at all costs, in a setting that captures the horrors of war. The story is beautiful and moving, but the puppetry is the most incredible part of the experience of the play. It’s worth the cost of a ticket just to see how actors are able to transform themselves so thoroughly into horses, and how quickly the puppeteers fade into the animals in the story. People gawked and gaped at “The Lion King”’s puppetry, but after having seen both, I can vouch that “War Horse” easily out-puppets the other.
I never expected tears to well up and an entire audience to audibly gasp when metal horse structures writhed on stage in agony, but it happened. That’s how enraptured you get.
“War Horse” is a long play, but despite its deep subject matter, it moves quickly. If there’s one play to see in Atlanta this season, “War Horse” should be it. It’s a classic and emotional story, draped in the most incredible costuming imaginable. Well worth the price of admission.
“War Horse” runs through September 30 at The Fox.