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Epic story gallops into city

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 28, 2014

The show famously uses puppetry to great effect in order to bring the horses to life on stage

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War Horse, the National Theatre's heart-wrenching production, is coming to the Bristol Hippodrome.

The city has been awaiting the thoroughbred's arrival since the production's co-director Tom Morris joined Bristol Old Vic as artistic director in 2009. And if the month-long show is a sell out, as it is expected to be, more than 74,000 people will see the show at the Hippodrome.

Tom is as delighted as anybody to see the worldwide sell-out show make its Bristol premiere in January 2015.

He said: "I'm absolutely thrilled. When I arrived in the city, the thing I was most often asked was whether I would be bringing War Horse to Bristol.

"Of course I had to explain that the show simply wouldn't fit on the Old Vic Stage.

"But now, finally, it's happening. It is great news that War Horse will finally come to the Bristol Hippodrome in 2015."

Based on the celebrated novel by the Children's Laureate (2003-05) Michael Morpurgo, actors work with magnificent, life-sized puppets to take audiences on a gripping journey through history.

Humour, love, loyalty and tragedy are fused together into this powerful story of a young boy called Albert and his beloved horse, Joey, who has been requisitioned to fight for the British in the First World War.

Joey embarks on an epic odyssey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in a no man's land.

Albert cannot forget Joey, and, still not old enough to enlist in the army, he embarks on a dangerous mission to find him and bring him home to Devon. War Horse is a powerfully moving and imaginative drama, filled with stirring music, lighting and magnificent artistry.

Full-scale horses are brought to life stunningly on stage by a team of puppeteers, their flanks, hides and sinews built of steel, leather and aircraft cables.

War Horse has 23 puppets, originally created by South Africa's internationally renowned Handspring Puppet Company, including horses Joey and Topthorn, as well as a goose, two swallows and two crows.

The attention to detail in the construction and performance of the puppets is extraordinary, from the delicate flicking of the tail and turning of the ears to the kicking out of the horses when provoked.

Dubbed "the theatrical event of the decade" for the city, War Horse will appear at the Bristol Hippodrome from January 14 to February 14, 2015. Tickets go on sale on Tuesday, April 8 and are sure to race out of the box office quicker than a galloping horse. The production is suitable for 10 years plus.


War Horse has been seen by more than five million theatre-goers worldwide since its premiere and continues its hugely successful run at the New London Theatre in the West End. Among the show's numerous accolades are six prestigious Tony Awards including best play and best director for Tom Morris and his co-director Marianne Elliott. An additional special Tony was given to Handspring for their outstanding puppetry design. In 2011, War Horse was adapted into a movie by Steven Spielberg. Starring Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis and Benedict Cumberbatch, the film made £115 million in cinemas worldwide and was nominated for six Oscars. Puppeteers train for eight weeks before they begin performing.

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