‘War Horse’ marches onto stage in National Theatre Live broadcast

Telegraph correspondentMarch 28, 2014 

James Alper plays Capt. Stewart and Lee Armstrong plays Albert in the National Theatre’s production of “War Horse.”

NATIONAL THEATRE

Sound the bugles: “War Horse” is coming to Macon at last. As the National Theatre production of this spectacular hit from London is about to demonstrate, some things are well worth waiting for.

Delayed as result of the Macon Film Festival, the HD broadcast of this visceral drama will take place at the historic Douglass Theatre at 3 p.m. Sunday. Based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo that was adapted for the stage by Nick Stafford, “War Horse” takes the audience from the green fields of Devon to the nightmarish trenches of World War I France.

“The Great War” was an epoch-shattering event in multiple respects: This is the war in which cavalry on horseback were pitted against tanks, machine guns, barbed wire and gas attacks. Since Morpurgo is celebrated as a children’s author, it not surprising that most of the key human characters in this wrenching tale are young, vividly demonstrating the truth that the flower of British manhood perished in Flanders fields.

The tale begins in England just before the war, when two brothers bid on the same foal. Arthur Narracott wants the horse for his son Billie, but the drunk Ted Narracott prevails, and following a surprising wager, the horse goes to his son Albert, who gives it the name Joey.

At the outbreak of war, alas, Ted callously sells Joey to the cavalry and the horse is shipped to France along with another named Tophorn. Ultimately, both Billy and Albert end up also in France. Much bloodshed and heartache later, this searing look at war ends with Albert and Joey reunited.

As the title of this work suggests, the heroes of this drama are the horses, and they appear on stage in the form of giant puppets, controlled by visible handlers.

While the critics have acknowledged this show to be a heart-rending depiction of lost innocence, they also declare it to be transcendentally life-affirming.

“War Horse”

When: 3 p.m. March 30

Where: Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Cost: $20 adults, $15 students and seniors

Information: 478-742-2000

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