One of the most popular and successful shows the National Theatre has every produced, this elegant adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s acclaimed children’s novel has been seen by an estimated seven million people around the world.
To mark the centenary of the end of the First World War the touring production returns to the Alhambra after a sell-out run at the Bradford theatre in 2014 – and judging by the packed auditorium the night I went, it holds a special place in the hearts of Yorkshire audiences. It is a truly awe-inspiring and very moving piece of theatre. The puppetry is breathtaking and undoubtedly the biggest stars of the show are the skilled technicians who bring the magnificent life-sized equine structures spectacularly to breathing, stomping life. The huge human cast bring a variety of colourful characters – villagers, soldiers and officers – vividly into being as they tell the story of young Devon farm boy Albert who, despite being too young to enlist, heads for the killing fields of the Western Front after his feckless father sells his beloved horse Joey to a cavalry officer. While it is ultimately an uplifting story of courage, loyalty and friendship, the battle scenes are shockingly visceral and as a powerful anti-war statement it is hard to beat.
To March 10.