(warning): "War Horse" at Lincoln Center Theater

Just a short note about War Horse, currently playing at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in Lincoln Center.

First, let me say that the puppetry, done by Handspring Puppet Company, is astounding: in a stylized way, it creates a wonderfully realistic illusion of horses. I am glad that I got to see about five minutes or so of their wizardry.

But let me quickly follow by saying we were relieved to be able to escape this sad excuse for theater as soon as intermission rolled around. It is shallow, predictable, maudlin, schlock. I am certain that once WWI gets into full swung, the mindless pathos that began to build in the first act must rise to a tremendous crescendo of manipulative emotionality; but I am equally certain that it is safe to assume that no more meaning or substance--or good writing--enters to interfere with its exclusive hold on this play.

It is hard (well, maybe not so hard) to understand why so many theater goers find this empty, slick, emotionality so compelling. Nancy and I certainly did not.


My brief--but bitter--review of this play at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont theater has already provoked nine responses. I have been experimenting with putting my Culture Alerts online in Blog form (at www.DeadParrotPages.com, to allow for an interractive forum for such reactions, although no one seems to be taking me up on that (which is OK, of course). The blog version of this article is available at www.deadparrotpages.com/2011/05/war-horse-at-lincoln-center-warning.html. Menawhile, here are the responses to date (without attribution):

"Interesting - I'd heard mostly good reviews about it as well. My aunt also disliked it enormously. She insisted that I not take the boys to it, no matter what - so as of now, we have no plans to go. Glad to hear another voice along the same lines!"

"But did you like it?"

"We so agree. Had to see it for a benefit... Perfect response. Five minutes would have been great!"

"what did you really think?"

"You made a big mistake leaving before the Second Act. It was hilarious: Hoganís Heroes with gore and horses."

"You liked it that much eh?"

"Sorry to say I disagree. I saw it in London about 1 1/2 ago and loved it so much will be taking family in June. You should have stayed for 2nd act. The horrors of WW1 and the involvement of the horses was new to me and made for powerful theater."

"I agree with you completely about War Horse, and have been saying that to everyone, but all I get back are incredulous stares."

"Oh dear."

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