Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Trip to Melbourne to see War Horse

Last Wednesday as we began the final week of the summer school holidays, the boys and I enjoyed a day trip to Melbourne to see the National Theatre of Great Britain’s production of War Horse. This colossal theatrical production is currently being shown at the State Theatre in Melbourne’s Arts Centre.

Motoring through city traffic is not my idea of fun so we drove as far as Bendigo and then caught the train to Melbourne. By happy coincidence as the boys and I entered the second carriage we ran into former district local, Susie Wood, also on her way to Melbourne. Susie and I talked nonstop and the two-hour train ride passed quickly.

A short walk and tram ride transported the boys and I into the middle of the city for a quick, early lunch before the show. I’m always amazed at the sheer number and variety of food outlets in the city; how do they all survive? We covered French, Italian and Japanese cuisines with Henry having a toasted croissant, Max and Sam choosing focaccias and I opted for sushi.

From the city we caught a tram on Swanston Street, across the Princess Bridge spanning the Yarra River, to the Arts Centre. Trams have been operating in Melbourne since 1885 and are a quick and easy form of public transport to get around the city.

The State Theatre is underground at the Arts Centre and opened to the public in 1984. It has seating for 2,085 people and one of the largest stages in the world. Once we’d found our very comfortable velvety seats in Row J of the stalls and sat down, I turned to the lady next to me and asked if she was from Melbourne? No, as it turned out she wasn’t. Her name was Mary and she lived on a dairy farm at Cohuna… proving yet again, just how tiny the world is.

For the next few hours we sat enthralled, watching the enormous production of War Horse with its actors, life-sized horse puppets and puppeteers. Based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel, the story was adapted to theatre and premiered in London in October 2007 as well as being turned into a blockbuster movie directed by Steven Spielberg and released in December 2011.

War Horse tells the story of friendship and the extraordinary connection between a horse named Joey who is raised on a farm in the English county of Devon and his owner, farm boy, Albert Narracott.

At the outbreak of the First World War Albert’s father Ted sells Joey to the army where he becomes the mount for cavalry officer Nicholls. After Captain Nicholls is killed in action, Albert, still distraught at losing his horse, becomes determined to join the army, to find Joey and bring him home. Albert enlists underage and at sixteen, he descends into the hell of WWI trench warfare.

Theatre combines storytelling with 3D at its best. The story is portrayed vividly with spectacular sound and lighting. The puppeteers made the life-sized horse puppets move so realistically, we in the audience almost forgot the horses were puppets.

After the show it was time to catch the train back to Bendigo and then drive home to Barham. A big day out we all thoroughly enjoyed.

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