Posts Tagged ‘New London Theatre’

Review – War Horse – National Theater at the New London Theatre

October 25, 2012

Am I the last person in London to see War Horse? Given that it opened in 2007, it seems like the answer is “yes,” but it can’t possibly be true, or it wouldn’t be booking at the New London Theater through October 2013, and people wouldn’t keep coming to my site looking for cheap deals to see it. I’ve been wanting to see it for all of this time, and I’ve carefully kept myself away from spoilers in anticipation of seeing it. I mean, horses! Puppets! Horse puppets! It seemed like the kind of play I could really, really enjoy … but not the kind I could see on a budget. (I’ve only seen offers twice and the show constantly is sold out, so my advice is, if you want to see it for cheap, shop far in advance for the restricted view seats, such as circle A14 and A15, only £10.)

So, we’re looking at a show that, if I was going to see, I was going to need to fork over some serious dough for, since it’s supposed to be spectacular and so I actually wanted to NOT have a restricted view. And here you are, at Life in the Cheap Seats, and I’m telling you there aren’t any deals to be found, and what you’ve got to want to know is, is it worth it? (For the record, my tickets were £65, and they were a birthday present, so they WERE cheap … for me! But I waited all of this time to go because I couldn’t afford anything the year it came out, and I couldn’t convince myself to pay full price, and it never came up at TKTS, and even Graham Roberts of Great Tickets was only ever able to save about £2 a ticket. So I asked for it as a birthday present, and I received.)

Rather disappointingly, I need to report that five years after it opened, War Horse continues to have a strong emotional impact and shows no signs of flagging commitment from the cast. We know it’s about a boy and his horse and World War I, right, so no spoilers there … but I wasn’t expecting such a lyrical look at life in rural Devon before the war, or that so much attention would be spent on making Albert’s family and their struggles on their farm so vibrant. And I had thought it was told through the eyes of the horse … but it’s not. The main horse, Joey, is followed throughout the story, but we simply follow his experiences, which almost always have a human focus and never turn into silly anthropomorphism. There is no horsey thoughts spoken through a narrator (I was SO worried about this), and Joey stays a horse, responding in a horsey way … there is never a moment which I thought to be unsuited to the natural behavior of a (well-loved and trusting) horse. Would he react to gunfire and the realities of battle the way he did? Well, that I can’t say, but what I saw made it all seem quite natural.

A lot has been made of the puppets and, well, if you read me a lot, you’ll note that I write about puppets more than most theater bloggers. The War Horse full sized horse puppets did have a stunning range of movement – I’ll never buy their running motion (and walking wasn’t particularly great), but kicking and most normal horse stuff (like pulling a cart) was quite good, and by the time we got to the climactic first act “bet” scene, I’d become pretty vested in Joey, no longer reading him as a pile of sticks being manipulated by three puppeteers but as a horse (as represented on stage, much like “Albert” was a grown man playing a boy). And the fight scene with him and another horse was really done just extremely well. I was also pleased to see there were many other puppets in the show, from the birds that built atmosphere in the opening scene, to the comic goose, to the tragic one-man horse/human puppets that represented the cavalry and quite dramatically showed that the age of man and horse in war had come to an end just as Joey had been called up to a “higher” duty than pampered farmhorse.

WELL! So where does that leave you? I cried occasionally and without shame during this show, and wept hard enough at the end that I had to wipe my tears on my sleeve. All that and I’d just spent nearly three hours (time flew by, I hadn’t even noticed how long it had been) watching a bunch of sticks making friends with a guy earning a paycheck on stage. Total suspension of disbelief, people, and I loved every minute of it, even the songs, even the German cavalryman. I could tell, though, that there were some _might_ bad seats at the New London, but still, if good story telling and compelling theater is what your looking for, Warhorse really delivers. It may be the last present I ever get from my husband (more sniffling and sadness), but it was a wonderful gift.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Friday, October 12th, 2012. The show never seems to end. Buy ahead if you want to buy cheap.)

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Ticket deal – £10 off top price tix for War Horse – September 6-17 2010 only

August 21, 2010

It’s been almost a year since the National last had an offer on tickets to the much loved and highly successful War Horse. I still want to see it but I still haven’t, as I’m put off by theater with a £50 price tag; usually I can get at least three shows for that price.

However, it may be time to break down, as there simply aren’t bargains to be had for this show if you’re an adult. It never comes up at TKTS or any of the normal theater discounters, so either I need to settle with a really crappy seat (Circle Side Restricted, £15) or pay retail. And now the National is offering another deal off of top price tickets, top price for £40, which, as it turns out, isn’t quite as good as last year’s deal but only off by £2.50 so who am I to quibble. Anyway, the details are as follows:

£10 off top price tickets (usually £49.50) for Monday to Friday evening performances from 6 – 17 September 2010. Book online and enter promotion code 2997 then select date and tickets, or call 020 7452 3000 and quote ‘Members War Horse Offer’. Excludes Thursday matinees and Saturday matinee and evening performances.

There you are; enjoy.

£25 off two “top price” tickets for War Horse – except matinees, Sat PM

September 4, 2009

NOTE: THIS DEAL IS NOW EXPIRED. Sorry. A 2010 September offer is now here.

I was sent a flyer in the mail from the National announcing £25 off of “two top price tickets” for War Horse, good through October 24th, 2009. Per the voucher, go to warhorselondon.com/25 (which redirects you to the National’s War Horse site), then follow the instructions – either buy online using the promo code 2104 or call the box office (020 7452 3000, quote ‘Promotion Code 2104’) – and order two top price tickets (£47.50 for £35.00). Although it says it’s good for two tickets, the web site appears to be perfectly willing to sell you up to eight at a savings of £12.50 per ticket. While this seems kind of unimpressive in general, I compared to the TKTS “half price” booth (on a Friday) and found that the best deal to be had for the same ticket was £38.00, so this is actually a little better and not so prone to “will they be for sale tonight or not” problem that comes with TKTS purchases. So while this isn’t a great deal (especially compared to the £10 day seats you could have got if you’d gone to see it at the National instead of waiting until it transferred to the New London Theatre), it’s the best thing I’ve seen for this show other than restricted view seats.

“Diving Performing Arts” returns to London – beware!

February 5, 2009

Note: like most Americans, I am a big supporter of the right to freely practice your religion, and I object to having my article here used as somehow being against Fa Lun Gung as a religion or against people who practice Fa Lun Gung (English translation here). My article is about this presentation as an arts exhibit. I believe people have the inherent right of freedom of religion, and it is wrong to restrict people’s religious practices, and if this had been sold as a religious revival night, I would not have had a word of complaint and would hope that those had attended had enjoyed themselves greatly.

I was mortified to discover that the Diving Performing Arts ensemble, originators of my most horrifying evening out last year, are returning to London, once again peddling their thinly veiled religious revival as a performance that is a “colorful gala of dance and music” rather than a two hour long propaganda piece. One of the people who commented on my review of their performance last year said that all advertising made it clear that this performance is being pushed by the Fa Lun Da Fa/ Fa Lun Gung cult; but in fact this is only made obvious by a TINY LINE on the back page of the flyer the well-coiffed women were handing out at Holborn Station last night (“presented by Falun Gong Association (UK)”). And if I hadn’t been following current events in China for twenty years, what would the chances be of my having ANY IDEA what this is about?

BE WARNED: this event is a Falun Gong RELIGIOUS REVIVAL, with numerous songs praising the religion and dances showing the persecution of its believers, NOT an arts event. It’s also an anti-People’s Republic of China propaganda piece. If you are offended by being preached to at an event you have PAID MONEY FOR, do NOT go to this. (It’s going to be at the New London Theatre and the Edinburgh Playhouse.) It’s not even a group from China – they are based in New York! So consider yourself warned. (On the other hand if you hate the PRC or are a big fan of this religion, doubtlessly you will find this the best event of the entire year. Me, I’m going to see La Cage Aux Folles instead.)