Today we went to see War Horse, on tour from the National Theatre. I hadn’t seen the film version or read the book – when I was younger, Michael Morpurgo was one of my favourite authors, although I don’t think I’ve read anything by him since being utterly traumatised by Out of the Ashes. For those who don’t know, it’s about a horse who goes off to the front during the First World War. It seemed particularly appropriate to watch less than a month before the 100th anniversary of the armistice – it’s certainly given me a lot of food for thought in the run up to the ‘celebrations’ of that, and that line between marking something and commemoration of it. One line from one of the songs particularly struck me – ‘only remembered for what we have done’. It felt reminiscent of a scene in the History Boys, when the group visit a war memorial and the line ‘it’s not lest we forget, it’s lest we remember’ – sometimes remembrance can cover up a lack of willingness to confront the past.
I’m not sure if ‘enjoyed’ is the right word, although there were lots of comedic moments in amongst all the drama (especially the goose!), but it was brilliant. I had heard the staging was great, but that doesn’t even begin to do justice to it, and the music and the use of puppetry were both fantastic. Although Morpurgo usually writes for children, this felt very adult – although the ‘darker side’ of history shouldn’t be hidden from children,this did feel very dark (though by no means a bad thing, and having not read the source material I don’t know if that’s taken from the book!)
It was definitely much more of a straightforward play than the musicals I’ve seen recently, but was by no means boring! The Cursed Child (which we’ll be seeing for my birthday on the 7th November) has a lot to live up to.