War Horse in Guangzhou (Chinese Version) will be held at Guangzhou Opera House from Mar.9 to Mar.20, 2016.
War Horse is a play based on the book of the same name by children’s writer Michael Morpurgo, adapted for stage by Nick Stafford. Originally Morpurgo thought “they must be mad” to try to make a play from his best-selling 1982 novel; nonetheless, the play was a success. The play’s West End and Broadway productions are directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris; it features life-size horse puppets by the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa, with “horse choreography” by Toby Sedgwick.
The Guardian’s Michael Billington wrote in his review: Elliott and Morris recreate the kaleidoscopic horror of war through bold imagery, including the remorseless advance of a manually operated tank, and through the line-drawings of Rae Smith projected on to a suspended screen. Admittedly the performers are somewhat eclipsed by the action … The joy of the evening, however, lies in the skilled recreation of equine life and in its unshaken belief that mankind is ennobled by its love of the horse.
The Wall Street Journal’s Terry Teachout praised the puppetry, but gave mixed reactions to the play: “The fundamental flaw of ‘War Horse’ is that Nick Stafford, who wrote the script ‘in association’ (that’s how the credit reads) with South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, has taken a book that was written for children and tried to give it the expressive weight of a play for adults. Not surprisingly, Mr. Morpurgo’s plot can’t stand the strain. Dramatic situations that work perfectly well in the context of the book play like Hollywood clichés onstage. In the first act, the craftsmanship is so exquisite that this doesn’t matter-much-but things go downhill fast after intermission. The really big problem is the last scene, about which, once again, the drama critics’ code commands silence. This much must be said, though: A play that is so forthright about the horrors of war owes its audience a more honest ending.”