woensdag 10 december 2014

Warhorse, Luxor Theater 6 December 2014

Photo: Wo.
There's some singing in Warhorse, so let's try and do a review. This is not the sort of show I usually go to, but there being a special occasion in the family, I received an invite and all members of the three generations were present for the matinée show.

Warhorse is a story about a teenage peasant boy, his horse and the first World War. The magic of the show is the viewer's brain which transforms a horse skeleton device, operated by no less than three men, into a real horse. And that was the part that did not work for me. It took me too long not to see the guy operating the head and neck of the horse. I did see the grace of the movements. Close to ballet. And how good the movements were and all. But it did not become a horse for me except for one or two moments. (E.g. 'Dogville' transformed into a real village. An empty stage. So I have the ability to see what is not really there on occasion.)

I was more impressed by the stupidity of war that was shown so well. The people in the village going of to war cheering. "We'll be home in a few months", and all joined the cavalry of Devonshire, including the horse, sold by a constantly drunk, rather stupid father. Sabre drawn the officers charged, like it was Azincourt in 1314 and were mowed down by machine guns and obliterated by shells from large canons. (Wrong example, I know. The British long bows!, but you get my drift.) And chivalrous as they were raised, they all charged again, those who survived. For King and country, God and who knows who else. And again and again. Until millions had laid down their lives in the mud of the Sombre, IIzer, Verdun, etc.). A scene with a (skeleton) tank and the horse was the best scene of the show. Really, really impressive. Telling it all.

Rotterdam view: Wo.
"What is your dad's role in Warhorse"?, a kid can ask. "Well, he's the fence". "And the bow railing of a ship".

There's some community singing, but not really as a musical. There's also a commentary part being sung. Moralistic like an angel choir in a medieval play commenting on what's transpiring in the different acts. Unfortunately there's so much going on at the same time, that I had trouble hearing the comments clearly. Too distracted by all else going on. Time passed shown on a cloud above the stage, from 1914 to 1918.

Warhorse is impressive, but also a bit of a gimmick and a paper thin plot and a predictable ending. Which is all forgiveable. What I thought impressive was perhaps not what the creators had wanted me to find impressive. The impact of the show was also quite different on the generations. Where I was confirmed in my conviction that war is about the stupidest thing humans can get caught up in, the sixteen year old in our family, grown up on war games and endless effortless, without any consequences, killing, thought it to be so cool to go to war. He completely understood the merry, festive atmosphere when all went off to war in August 1914. Something I find unbelievable. What does that say about our days?


Warhorse is travelling NL in the coming months. Check out where here:


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