As here, where the production won numerous design awards, US critics were particularly wowed by Handspring’s life-sized puppets of the horses, including Joey, whose shipment to France during the First World War prompts his teenaged owner Albert to enlist and follow after him.
“I doubt you’ll have ever seen anything like it,” Bloomberg marvels. “The most stunning use of puppetry since The Lion King… absolutely masterful and immensely moving”, says am New York. “To experience War Horse on stage is to wonder how these puppets manage to etch themselves so deeply into your soul,” according to the Chicago Tribune. And, in reference to Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film adaptation of the novel, the powerful Ben Brantley of the New York Times, predicts that “nothing on screen could replicate the specific thrill of watching Joey take on substance and soul, out of disparate artificial parts, before our eyes.”
There were some misgivings about the lack of sympathy engendered for the human characters and about the effectiveness of trying to add adult weight to a children’s story. But whatever the production’s flaws, they didn’t stop the Wall Street Journal from confidently proclaiming: “War Horse was a big hit in London, and it will be a big hit at New York's Lincoln Center Theater. It can't fail, and it shouldn't. Never again will you see such visually poetic, technically self-assured craftsmanship.”
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