Evaluation of Play War Horse

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An evaluation of the play ‘War Horse’, showing your understanding of the medium and elements used and your response.

On Monday the 21st of September I went to see the play ‘War Horse’ at the New London Theatre. The play was directed by Marianne Elliot and Tom Morris and is written about the novel ‘War Horse’ by Michael Morpurgo. The play is about a horse, Joey. He is sold to the English cavalry and is shipped off to France were we serves in WW1. His owner, Albert desperate not to lose Joey, enlists in the army despite the fact that he is under aged. Albert embarks on a treacherous journey on a quest to find Joey. The play is based upon the horse’s perspectives and views. War Horse is trying to emphasis the strong brutality of war, and what a waste it is. There were many themes in the play e.g. the play is trying to show the barbarity of war, and the futility of it. This is shown when the innocent horses are put against machinery knowing that they have no hope of surviving. As is shown in the first charge scene when the horses and soldiers all get brutally killed by a single machine gun. The themes also show how peoples are turned to misery as they are worries about their loved one, e.g. Albert and Emily are going through are hard time because of the war, Albert is very distressed about losing Joey, and Emily is upset about losing her two horses at the front line.

The stage set is a very minimalistic and representational. There are not many naturalistic items used. The only naturalistic parts in the play are linked with the horses, such as their reins, ploughs, buckets etc. There was a three-sided audience, which sat left right and centre. There are large wings for the entrance of the tank and the horses. The stage floor was painted many shades of grey and black. This was creating a textured effect and it represented the farm land in Devon, the dirty muddy trenches in France, and the sea. The set was a composite, e.g. the house was not fully shown, there was just a door, and a window of which was suspended from wires coming from the ceiling, and also the whole stage was representing both Devon and France simultaneously. The scene were Major Nicholls was somersaulted across the stage to his death from the horses back whilst Albert receives the news that Major Nicholls has died in Devon. This scene is yet another example of composite sets used throughout the play. Using composite sets keeps the pace of the play up and it also adds irony.

There was also a revolve used in the play; this was used to create a sense of separation during different scenes. This was used in the village scene, with the non-naturalistic parts set on the revolve, and the naturalistic parts set outside of the revolve. Ted had made a bet with his brother Arthur to prove that Joey is also a working horse as well as a hunting horse. After Albert had sorrowfully put the harnesses on Joey, he had to prove that he can plough. This was when the use of the revolve was put into action. It was to represent how tired Joey was, and how far we had ploughed for.

There was also a use of a projection. This was mainly used to project Major Nicholls’s diary. The projection was hung from wires in mid-air coming from the ceiling, and was shaped as a torn page from Major Nicholls’s diary. It was also used to represent, drawings of horses, men walking over the top, the poppies splattered with blood, Devon and the cathedral, open fields, village life, trees, horses. The projection was also used to highlight specific dates.

There were also metal posts suspended from the ceiling. This was to represent the tree-stumps in no-mans land, this came down only once during the whole play, and it was during the war scene.

Before Joey was sold off to the cavalry he was kept in an enclosure. The enclosure was represented by several actors holding long canes horizontally to symbolise the fences, and when not in use they were held vertically.

There are many significant...
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