Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 51 - Dinner in the Garden and Warhorse

Covent Garden Food Market
Today, we decided, for our last Thursday in London, that we would sample the Covent Garden Food Market again, like we did our first Thursday here.  Seemed appropriate.

Tonight I had peri-peri chicken with grilled onions and greek salad.  Hubby opted for the same chicken, but requested his in a ciabatta roll.  We didn't manage to take pictures, but they were good.  We did however, manage to get a picture of Rudolph in all his finery at the Garden.

Rudolph with his nose so bright
Earlier in the day I worked on a previous entry, while hubby went out to purchase theatre tickets for us, and returned with tickets to Warhorse.

W.C. Fields has been quoted as saying, "Never work with children or animals."  The reason he said this is because they will always upstage you.  In this case, the animal puppets clearly steal the show.

Joey (the horse) being taught to pull a plow
After a successful run at the Olivier in the National Theatre, War Horse transferred to the West End's New London Theatre, beginning preview performances on 28 March 2009, prior to an official opening of 3 April. The original cast featured Kit Harington as Albert, who reprised his South Bank performance. The production includes an original score composed by Adrian Sutton.  Kit Harington has since risen to fame playing Jon Snow in the HBO series "Game of Thrones."

Topthorn in the Army before he meets Joey
War Horse is a play based on the book of the same name by acclaimed 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, and if you've seen the movie, but not the play you might understand why he felt that way. Morpurgo was proved wrong, however, by the play's instant success. The play's West End and Broadway productions are directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, with "horse choreography" by Toby Sedgwick.

Topthorn and Joey fighting for dominance
The production met with critical acclaim for its life-size horse puppets from the Handspring Puppet Company, winning an Olivier Award, Evening Standard Theatre Award and London Critics' Circle Theatre Award. On 12 October 2009 the performance was seen by HM Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, marking their first private theatre visit in four years. War Horse has been popular with audiences, playing to 97% capacity in 2010, subsequently breaking the record for the highest weekly gross for a play in the West End. In December 2010, War Horse was dubbed "the theatrical event of the decade" by The Times. In 2011 it welcomed its millionth audience member.

On tour, Joey meets Charlie, a retired racehorse
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.

Topthorn and Joey off to fight the Germans in WWI
Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph had written that, generally, "puppets are often an embarrassment, involving a lot of effort and fuss for negligible returns"; in this case, he praised the puppetry as "truly magnificent creations by the Handspring Puppet Company." The Times' 10-year-old guest reviewer called the show "movingly and realistically brought to life" and "an emotional and compelling adaptation of the book."

Topthorn collapsing from exhaustion under German handling
Both as an animal lover and an avid theatergoer, I found this play moving me to tears.  I will admit that I cried when I watched the movie as well, but in this case these puppets were so realistically imbued with their own personalities that Albert and Joey's final reunion after the war ended had me silently crying in my seat.  Kudos to the handlers and the actors who magically brought the story to life.

War Horse at the New London Theatre
I'm going to try to finish up a few things now, so until tomorrow.

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