Review – War Horse, New London Theatre

How have I managed to go through my life without ever seeing War Horse? Everybody raves about it.The Times reckoned it was the best play of the last decade, for crying out loud. And yet I never managed to quite get around to it. Until now.

The venerable old beast – it’s been going since 2007 – has finally been put out to pasture at the New London, officially the city’s strangest theatre venue. Architecturally a cross between a multi-story car park and a 1960s county council leisure centre, it is also home to Sans Taste’s favourite Brazilian-themed dance bar. And a subterranean multi story car park.

The play itself is rather soppy – it must be said, I saw his mum’s point when she shouted “stop talking about that bleedin horse” – and the ending is not the way I would have written it (“You can kick now Joey!” shouted Albert, the mighty horse rearing in front of the Kaiser’s rich mahogany desk) but the puppets are fantastically well done and it’s difficult to remain too aloof given how charming the whole performance is.

The play is booking in London until October 2011, transferring to Broadway and being turned into a Spielberg film so there’s frankly no rush to get there any time soon.  Unless of course you, like I, have got your heart set on one of the souvenir merchandise opportunities which the £4 programme spends most of its time advertising.  Those War Horse branded latte mugs aren’t going to sit around forever – order quickly to avoid disappointment.