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By midlandsmovies, Feb 21 2020 10:30AM

Quite simply, here is our ongoing and updated list of Film Festivals in the Midlands (2020 edition):


• THE SHORT CINEMA http://www.theshortcinema.co.uk info@theshortcinema.co.uk Phoenix, Leicester - August 2020 (TBC)


*CINE-EXCESS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - Birmingham School of Media Birmingham City 4th - 7th November 2020


• NOTTINGHAM INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL http://www.nottiff.com/ 13th - 15th November 2020


• INDIE-LINCS - Feb 13th - 15th 2020 Based at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, and run in partnership with The School of Film and Media at the University of Lincoln http://www.indie-lincs.com


• BRINDLEY PLACE OUTDOOR FEST - http://www.brindleyplace.com/event/brindleyplace-film-festival-2018/ DATES TBC


• BORDERLINES FEST http://www.borderlinesfilmfestival.co.uk UK's largest rural film festival. Herefordshire/Shropshire - 28th February to 15th March 2020


• BIRMINGHAM FILM FEST - 13th - 22nd November 2020 https://filmfreeway.com/festival/Birminghamfilmfestival


• BIFF FEST (Birmingham Black International Film Fest) https://www.biffestival.co.uk 2020 TBC


• SHOCK AND GORE FESTIVAL Electric Cinema in Birmingham https://twitter.com/shockgore 2020 TBC


• DEAFFEST http://www.deaffest.co.uk The UK's International Deaf Film & Arts Festival Wolverhampton. Contact info@light-house.co.uk 2020 date TBC


* BIRMINGHAM INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL http://birminghamindianfilmfestival.co.uk 2020 dates TBC


• THE UK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL LEICESTER - http://tonguesonfire.com/ 2020 dates TBC


• SHOUT FESTIVAL http://shoutfestival.co.uk Birmingham 2020 dates TBC


• DERBY FILM FESTIVAL http://www.derbyfilmfestival.co.uk 19th - 23rd November 2020


• FANTASTIQ FEST http://fantastiq.co.uk Fantasy/Horror Fest at Quad in Derby (part of Derby Film Fest)


• MAYHEM HORROR Film Fest - Halloween. Contact Broadway cinema in Nottingham http://www.broadway.org.uk/mayhem 15th - 18th October 2020


• FLATPACK FEST - Birmingham, UK. http://www.flatpackfestival.org.uk 5th - 10th May 2020


• BEESTON FILM FESTIVAL - https://twitter.com/BeestonFilm 25th-29th March 2020


• SHROPSHIRE RAINBOW FILM FESTIVAL http://www.rainbowfilmfestival.org.uk/midlands-zone on hiatus for 2019 - TBC 2020 dates


• GRINDHOUSE PLANET - www.grindhouseplanet.com 2020 dates TBC


* BOTTLESMOKE FILM FESTIVAL - https://www.facebook.com/BottleSmokeStoke Stoke on Trent - September 8th 2019


* WIRKSWORTH FILM FEST https://wirksworth3minfilmfest.co.uk Derbyshire 2th - 31st July 2020


* HEART OF ENGLAND FILM FEST - https://www.heartofenglandfilmfest.com Coventry 2020 Dates TBC


* HIGH PEAK INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL Derbyshire https://www.highpeakindie.com 6th - 9th August 2020


* NEXUS FILM FESTIVAL https://twitter.com/NexusEastMids Nottingham 17th - 21st May 2020


* NOTTZ FILM FESTIVAL Hothouse Theatre Nottingham https://twitter.com/NottmFilmFest 2020 Dates TBC


* THE SHORT STACK FILM FESTIVAL Nottingham Bi-monthly screening night at Broadway Cinema https://www.facebook.com/groups/841340665914084 (Various dates)


* 5 LAMPS FILMS - Bi-monthly short-film screenings at Derby Quad (various dates) + annual 24hr film challenge https://twitter.com/fivelampsfilms (Various dates)


* PARACINEMA - Derby https://twitter.com/ParacinemaDerby 7th - 10th May 2020


* THE BLACK COUNTRY HORROR SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL - Stourbridge https://www.weepingbankproductions.co.uk/horror-film-festival Saturday 27th February 2020


* CINEQ - Birmingham Queer Film Festival - https://www.cineqbirmingham.co.uk 26th - 29th March 2020


* LEAMINGTON FILM FESTIVAL - Temperance Bar, Leamington Spa http://www.temperance.bar/film-festival.html 10th - 12th January 2020


* NORTHAMPTON FILM FESTIVAL - various locations across Northampton http://www.northamptonfilmfestival.co.uk/ 13th – 20th May 2020


* WORCESTER FILM FESTIVAL - Royal Porcelain Works, Worcester https://filmfreeway.com/WorcesterFilmFestival 15th – 17th October 2020



Other useful Film Festival information can be found at these links:

http://www.festivalfocus.org/festival

http://film.britishcouncil.org/festivals-directory/festivals-map

http://www.thefilmfestivaldoctor.co.uk

By midlandsmovies, Jan 7 2020 09:36PM



Midlands Spotlight - Movie-related shows at Leicester Comedy Festival 2020


We take a wry look and recommend some of the best film-related shows at the annual and hilarious Leicester Comedy Festival taking place in February 2020 at venues all across the city.


For these and all other shows check out the full programme at the official website https://comedy-festival.co.uk/


Nathan D’Arcy Roberts: Is My Dad Denzel Washington?

Saturday, 08 February 2020 Time: 4:30pm (5:30pm) Doors open: 4:10pm Entry: £5 OR PWYW

Venue: Just the Tonic at The Shed - Vault

Nathan D'Arcy Roberts (BBC Introducing Radio 4 Comedy Award nominee) is bringing his exciting new show to the Leicester Comedy Festival. Raised having never met his father Nathan embarks on a journey to confirm his belief that the identity of his estranged papa is none other than the Oscar-winning actor.

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/nathan-darcy-roberts-is-my-dad-denzel-washington


Jokes On Us present MADDIE CAMPION: MAD MONEY WORK IN PROGRESS

Wednesday, 12 February 2020 Time: 7:45pm (8:45pm)Doors open: 7:25pm Entry: FREE

Venue: Manhattan 34 - Downstairs bar

In 2008 Katie Holmes didn't reprise her role as Rachel Dawes in the acclaimed Batman Begins follow up, The Dark Knight. Instead she chose to make the movie "Mad Money", which was both a critical and commercial flop. In this stand-up show Maddie Campion argues that Katie Holmes made the right decision.

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/maddie-campion-mad-money-work-in-progress/


COMEDY FILM NIGHT: TRADING PLACES

Friday, 14 February 2020 Time: 8:00pm (9:55pm)Doors open: 7:40pm Entry: £7.00

Venue: Harborough Theatre - Theatre

Upper-crust executive Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) and down-and-out hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) are the subjects of a bet by brokers Mortimer and Randolph Duke. An employee of the Dukes, Winthorpe is framed by the brothers for a crime he didn't commit, with the siblings then installing the street-smart Valentine in his position. When Winthorpe and Valentine uncover the scheme, they set out to turn the tables on the Dukes.

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/comedy-film-night-trading-places/


COMEDY FILM NIGHT: FOUR LIONS

Friday, 14 February 2020 Time: 6:00pm (7:35pm)Doors open: 5:40pm Entry: £7.00

Venue: Harborough Theatre - Theatre

Four Lions tells the story of a group of British jihadists who push their abstract dreams of glory to the breaking point. As the wheels fly off, and their competing ideologies clash, what emerges is an emotionally engaging (and entirely plausible) farce. In a storm of razor-sharp verbal jousting and large-scale set pieces, Four Lions is a comic tour de force; it shows that while terrorism is about ideology, it can also be about idiots.

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/comedy-film-night-four-lions/


MCUSICAL: THE UNOFFICIAL MARVEL PARODY MUSICAL WORK IN PROGRESS

Sunday, 16 February 2020 Time: 2:30pm (3:30pm) Doors open: 2:10pm Entry: FREE OR PWYW

Venue: Grays@LCB Depot - Lightbox

MCUsical: The Unofficial Parody Musical retells the last 10 years of your favourite superhero cinematic films through an hour of your favourite Broadway songs! You'll love it 3000! (Please note that this show is a Work-in-Progress showing)

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/mcusical-the-unofficial-marvel-parody-musical-work-in-progress/


Dad’s Army Radio Show

Monday, 17 February 2020 Time: 7:30pm (9:30pm) Doors open: 7:10pm Entry: £12.00 - £15.00

Venue: Harborough Market Hall

Watch as your favourite, classic BBC sitcom (and film!) comes to life with just two actors, two microphones and plenty of sound effects! Be transported back to Walmington as David Benson and Jack Lane work from original radio scripts, vintage music and all of Perry and Croft's beloved characters and catch phrases.

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/dads-army-radio-show-harborough-market-hall/


Hats Off To Laurel and Hardy

Saturday, 22 February 2020 Time: 8:00pm (10:00pm) Doors open: 7:40pm Entry: £10.00

Venue: The Guildhall - The Great Hall

The award-winning Lucky Dog bring their internationally renowned biopic about the best-loved comedy duo of all-time back to Leicester Guildhall. Widely regarded as being the most accurate show ever written about The Boys, it is the closest thing you can get to seeing the original pair in action.

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/hats-off-to-laurel-and-hardy/


Notflix: The Improvised Musical

Saturday, 22 February 2020 Time: 8:00pm (9:00pm) Doors open: 7:40pm Entry: £12.00

Venue: Curve - Studio - Curve - Studio

Five-star, total sell out show Edinburgh Fringe 2016-2018 and Vaults Festival 2017-2019. Did we mention the cast are making it up as they go along? Did we mention it's a musical? Featuring a live band and original, improvised songs.

https://comedy-festival.co.uk/event/notflix-the-improvised-musical/



By midlandsmovies, Nov 18 2019 05:39PM



Inkling


Directed by Wayne Kelly


2019


Spoon Jar Films & produced in association with KLens UK


New film Inkling comes from Leicester-based director Wayne Kelly of Spoon Jar films and tells the story of a date going well, then peculiar and then possibly far worse than that.


An interesting technical opening sees the camera following footsteps along the ground until we stop on a couple who head into an apartment stairwell.


Here we find out that an unnamed man (Joe Hughes) and Joanne (Rachel Nottingham) have come back from a date and although nervous she reluctantly invites him in for a drink.


A messy apartment and her (unsuccessful) draft novel manuscript somehow lead to an awkward kiss before he asks for more wine to keep the evening going. And as he heads to the bathroom, Rachel pours some drinks and puts on some music.


The man however looks increasingly disturbed as he rubs his chest, checks some of Rachel's medication and takes some deep breaths. Here the short takes a shocking turn as her guest’s personality changes, he returns to her front room and a frightening disturbance ensues.


Joanne uncovers a shocking sight, think “inkling”, on the body of Joe which may not be all it seems. He attempts to explain how he comes to have this personal body modification image and the significance it holds.


A very interesting and unique concept, Inkling is difficult to explain without spoilers but the short heads in a number of creepy and somewhat downbeat directions with each scene focusing on a dramatic incident to maintain the viewer’s attention into the next.


A hint of horror throughout, the fantastic ominous music from George Odom really helps sell the film’s creepy tone. An unusual and bizarre short at times, the two leads’ performances are also excellent and help keep up the narrative interest but the subject matter is dark to the point of blackness. Which may not resonate with every viewer with a focus heavily on "self" destruction.


Solid and unfussy direction keeps the puzzle pieces in place and a number of horrific discoveries are miles away from Inkling’s initial romantic start. With multiple layers and some metaphorical themes, Inkling jumps into very dark subject matter and will leave a more-than-permanent impression on its audience.


Michael Sales


Watch the film's trailer below:




By midlandsmovies, Nov 7 2019 12:07PM



20th Anniversary Screening of Wild Wild West at National Space Centre in Leicester


On 22 November enjoy a wiki-wiki-wild-wild-west evening at the National Space Centre. Take part in an early evening NERF shoot out in the galleries, followed by a 20th anniversary screening of Wild Wild West in the UK’s largest Planetarium.


Guests are welcome to bring their own non-powered NERF guns to participate!


The evening culminates in some fun on the Wild West Gaming tables, courtesy of the Ministry of Steampunk.


Boosters café/bar will be serving a selection of hot dogs, nachos, sandwiches, snacks, popcorn, soft and hot drinks, as well as alcoholic beverages from 18:30 on the night.


Tickets cost £10 per adult and £8 per child (12+ only due to the film classification).


Clcik here for info, tickets and details https://spacecentre.co.uk/event/wild-wild-west-20th-anniversary-screening/


Wild Wild West (12+)


If you think special government agent James West is fast with a six-shooter, wait'll he lays a quip on you! Will Smith plays West, reuniting with Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld in an effects-loaded, shoot-from-the-lip spectacular.


Kevin Kline plays inventor Artemus Gordon, teamed with West on a daring assignment: stop legless Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) and his diabolical plot for a Disunited States of America. Salma Hayek joins the action as mysterious adventuress Rita Escobar.


And all manner of geared-up 1860s gadgets—from belt-buckle derringers to surprise-packed billiard balls to a walking, eight-story, steam-and-steel tarantula—help make Wild Wild West a Wow!


Steampunks in Space


This event kicks off an alternative weekend dedicated to the “history that never was” as Steampunk fans get out their ray guns, strap on their goggles, and jump in their spaceships and head to the National Space Centre for Steampunks in Space, also including the SOLD OUT night of chap hop, science and cheese: Chap Hop and Cheese.


By midlandsmovies, Sep 30 2019 07:00AM



A Day in the Life of director Jordan Dean


In the final entry of our 'A Day in the Life' features, we follow the hectic schedule of Leicester-based film director Jordan Dean. Take a read of the very long day for one of the most crucial roles in local film production.


06:00. Wake up, shower, get ready. I then go through the schedule for the day, look over the shot list that I will have finalised with my DOP in pre-production. This allows me to focus my mind on what has to be done during the day so I can arrive to set and go through the day with my DOP and AD without having to run through paperwork which will slow things down.


07:30. Arrive on set, make a coffee and walk the set with my DOP and AD. This initial walkthrough allows the three of us to get on the same page for the first scene. This frees me up to work solely with the actors when they arrive as the DOP will communicate with their department what we have discussed, and they can begin to light the set and mark up camera positions.


08:00. I sit down with the actors and go through the 1st scene with them, this is a brief meeting and we touch on where this scene fits within the film, what has come before and what is coming after. The actors then head to hair and makeup.


08:45. My AD will bring the actors to set so we can begin blocking the scene. For this I usually have my AD and DOP close by so we can discuss any potential changes to shots, lighting etc. The gaffer and camera operators usually watch this blocking session to allow them to prep any camera moves and potential lighting changes. I like to allow my actors to play the scene out as they see it first, there are 2 reasons I do this. One, it allows the actors to take ownership over their surroundings and their characters. Two, I have a clear idea how the scene plays out in my mind but when you turn it over to an actor to make decisions without direction, they have a tendency to do something you had never thought of that could improve the scene. Once they play it through themselves, I then come in and change things that didn’t work and discuss some of the more interesting decisions they made. Once we have the blocking set the actors go back to their dressing room whilst I tweak a few things with the DOP.


09:15. Everything is in place; the first shot is set up and lighting is perfect. The actors are brought to set, we quickly run through the scene again and get them in position. We then run a final rehearsal followed by last looks from the hair and make up team. Now we are ready for the most exciting part of the day, first turnover. I sit by my monitor with my script supervisor and shout ‘Action!’. After we cut, I let my AD know if we need to go again or if are moving on, I then head straight to the actors whilst my AD lets everyone else know what’s going on. If we are going again, I let the actors know and we may tweak performance or if the reason for another take was a technical problem, I let them know that, so they don’t feel we are just going again for the sake of it. Once we have the shot, I will have a quick talk with my DOP about the next set up and then I go and work with the actors. This all repeats until the scene is wrapped.


12:00 – 13:00. Lunch (or dinner since I’m Northern). The majority of the cast and crew break here; however, I will have a meeting with my DOP and AD about the first scene after lunch so they can go straight to work after lunch. I grab something to eat and go over the shot list for the afternoon.


13:00 – 13:30. Get a fresh coffee, go through the morning with my script supervisor and ensure we have shot everything we intended.


13:30. Back on set with the actors for blocking. Same procedure as the morning, I try to stick to a similar routine as it allows everyone to be comfortable with what they are doing and limits the stress on set. Go through final tweaks with my AD and DOP.


14:00. Final rehearsal with the actors. Last looks. I head back to my monitor to find some fruit and fresh water as my script supervisor knows I won’t have had a proper lunch. Now it’s time for the first turnover of the afternoon.


18:00. That’s a wrap! Well, for most of the crew anyway. Whilst the crew pack down I spend some time with the actors reviewing the day and discuss the next days shoot. I give them some things to think about for the scenes coming up the next day and we discuss some initial ideas for the scenes.


18:30. I meet with my AD and script supervisor; we review the day and make sure we have shot everything we wanted to and that we are still on schedule. If we ran behind slightly, we might be discussing adding an extra scene into the schedule for the next day.


19:00. Everyone has gone home but I stay with my AD, script supervisor, DOP and the producer and we watch the rushes from the day. This is an exciting and nervous meeting as we get to watch back what we have shot which gives us an idea of what the final film may look like.


20:00. Leave set, head home and go over the schedule for the next day. I re-read the scenes for the next day and then go through the shot list in preparation for another long day on set.


By midlandsmovies, Sep 27 2019 10:22AM



And that’s another fine documentary you’ve gotten me into


A new documentary film is now in production from Leicester based production company Spoon Jar Films called On the Trail of Stan & Ollie which will showcase the historical journey of the famous film duo.


Established by experienced producer Wayne Kelly and Director/Cameraman Matt Holt, they make compelling films about fascinating people, issues that matter and quirky stories that surprise and entertain.


Wayne and Matt are currently filming the production which comes hot on the heels of documentaries “No Fare” and “In a Landfill Far, Far Away”.


And as well as the creative talents on Spoon Jar, the duo run commercial business MGL Media.


“We’ve been making high quality video for a wide range of businesses across the UK for over 13 years. Our portfolio covers a wide range of corporate clients, local governments, broadcasters and small businesses and organisations”, they say.


However, their new affectionate documentary will tell the story of comedy legends, Laurel and Hardy and follow hot on the heels of the recent BAFTA nominated film, ‘Stan and Ollie’. “We’re but really pleased at how many famous faces we’ve got on board so far”, they told Midlands Movies.


Wayne and Matt are also delighted to be producing this brand new documentary in collaboration with notable Laurel and Hardy aficionado, Ross Owen, of The Ross Owen Show.


And well-known actors will talk the viewer through their favourite scenes and show how Stan and Ollie continue to influence their own work and wider popular culture.


Laurel and Hardy historians and fans from around the world will also share their fascinating stories, some of which have never been heard before.


“We also follow the personal journey of Stan Laurel’s great granddaughter, Cassidy Cook, as she goes in search of her grandfather’s theatrical roots at the world’s oldest music hall - The Panopticon in Glasgow, Scotland”.


Shot on location in LA and Glasgow and full of anecdotes from those who knew Stan and Ollie best, this documentary brings ‘The Boys’ and their genius to a new generation of fans.


Having already produced films for the BBC and eOne, including content for international DVD & BluRay releases, the company also continue to seek new production and distribution partners.


“We always have multiple projects in production, so take a look at our website to see what we have on the slate, and how you can get involved”.


For further info check out their official website and social media pages below and check the full trailer out too:


http://www.mglmedia.tv/

https://twitter.com/SpoonJarFilms

http://www.spoonjarfilms.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/spoonjarfilms





By midlandsmovies, Sep 23 2019 07:00AM



A Day in the Life of lighting director Michael Owen


Our 'A Day in the Life' series continues with Midlands Movies' guest contributor kelly McCormack checking in with Leicester-based lighting director Michael Owen.


"In GM Finney productions we take the approach used by many smaller production teams whereby the director and main cameraman are blended", says Michael. He adds, "splitting out the lighting element to a separate role - which is me me - here is a (brief!) blow by blow of a typical day on set…".


22:00 (the night before) – Go through my kit ensuring no damage or missing elements for the shoot needed tomorrow. This normally involves packing everything depending on the terrain and accessibility of the shoot and what ambient lighting is going to be in place. Also have to consider the availability of power and how to solve supply issues.


09:00 – Load up the vehicle. This may sound simple, but through possessing the forward thinking potential of a yak means I bought a car which doesn’t lend itself to the lugging around of lighting equipment. This make the whole thing a game of giant Tetris in the back of a saloon car.


09:10 – Re-load the vehicle when I realise I’ve forgotten the main elements of today’s shots


09:30 – Finally on the road. Text the director to advise I’m going to be late, again.


10:00 – Arrive on set. Go through the main shots with the director and producer. This is where the second challenge of the day comes in. As the majority of the work we do is out of hours and everyone has day jobs, usually there won’t have been time to scope out the location prior to shooting. This then requires a lot of off the cuff thinking and solutions to be put in place. One of my absolute favourites is trying to turn day into night, in a room full of windows, in mid-august – I love that.


10:30 – Begin the set up. Blocking out windows, assembling lighting equipment, providing power where needed. This again requires some ingenuity, trying to find places to hide lights and provide adequate light without over or under exposure.


11:00 – Actors and extras arrive and start to run through some scenes. Its normally at this point that we realise the lighting as has been set up isn’t necessarily going to work, so it’s up to me at that point to again think fast and move lighting and associated power around to where is needed. What makes this tricky is that it is rare for me to be able to mount lighting above the actors, with it usually being on ground level. This makes the management of shadows and motivation of the light important to get as close as possible given the situation whilst ensuring no one trips over or destroys lights with clumsy feet.


11:00 – 16:00 – This part of my day usually involves keeping things consistent over the shoot. If an actor moves, or the director wants to shoot in another direction, the light has to look like it is coming from the same place and isn’t un-naturally bright in spots as people approach, or walk away from, lights. This can sometimes involve advising the director about shots, trying to avoid shooting in ways which will look unnatural or out of place and contributing to the overall feel of the picture by changing colours or intensities of light depending on the mood. This can be fun when we shoot in a different order where we could end up returning to a location later on, matching light in these circumstances is tricky at the best of times, and is sometimes impossible. Communication is key here, making sure that what the director sees in their head is re-created as close as possible on screen and if it isn’t possible, discussing what we can do.


16:30 – Following the end of the shoot it is then a case of managing the clear up operation. While people are very willing to help with the tidying away (thankfully or it would take hours!), it makes it very hard to keep track of everything and eventually boils down to a ‘chuck it in the bag and I’ll sort it at home’ strategy.


17:00 – Head for home with a car full of badly packed lighting equipment – why don’t I just buy flight cases?



By midlandsmovies, Sep 19 2019 10:39AM



War Horse at Curve is a thrilling tale of emotion and intensity


War Horse at Curve - Wed 18 Sep to Sat 12 Oct


War Horse is a play based on the book of the same name by writer Michael Morpurgo, adapted for stage by Nick Stafford. And now after an 8 record-record breaking years in London’s West End and having played in 11 countries around the world to over 7 million people, the National Theatre’s acclaimed play came to Curve last night.


If you don’t already know one of the main draws to the various productions are the amazing life-size horse puppets by the Handspring Puppet Company and unlike the novel, whose story is told through the horse's viewpoint, the narrative follows a young boy’s efforts to be reunited with his beloved horse from his childhood.


Movie-wise of course it was adapted again, this time for film by the legendary director Steven Spielberg. With influences from both the novel and the stage play, the 2011 movie was nominated for 6 Academy Awards and starred Jeremy Irvine (in his film acting debut), Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Huddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Marsan & many more in an amazing group cast. The film also has a small Midlands connection with parts being filmed on location at Castle Combe in Wiltshire.


Set around the First World War, War Horse tells of the journey of a horse (Joey) who is raised by British teenager Albert and after being bought by the Army, leads him to encounter numerous individuals and owners throughout Europe whilst the tragedies of war happen around him.


In this version we gallop headlong into events as Joey is bought at auction and forms a bond with young Albert (played with gusto by Scott Miller). And it’s here where the fantastic stage show comes to life by the extraordinary puppeteers. With two actors in the body and one for the head, the masterful demonstration of the art brought real life to the horses on stage. And when the amazing lighting was just right, you’d swear that were real. They were simply that good.


As the horse grows and is eventually sold under Albert’s nose into the military by his debt-ridden father, the stage becomes a brooding playground of war-time imagery. Smoke billows, searchlights cross no-man’s land and a fantastic understated score permeates scenes throughout the show and gives the play a movie-like feel.


A flash of an old photo camera pauses the action like a cinematic freeze-frame and a cavalry charge before the interval had unbelievable slow-motion explosions and horses stopping mid-air. Gunshots too had the audience bolting from their seats in fear, whist clever use of lighting and props were used like movie editing transitions to keep the story flowing.


As well as the emotional impact of the terrible consequences of war on humans and animals, there are moments of lightness. A puppet goose steals the show early-on with its amusing honk and comical conversations in the trench about the “girls back home” are clichéd but were touching and done with a real honesty.


The characterisation in general is quite broad but this allows space for you to enjoy and attach yourself emotionally to the animals – especially later on as an audible gasp was heard from the audience as one of the horses was whipped by an angry German soldier.


As we cantered our way to the show’s conclusion, the emotional intensity increases whilst reining in the sentimentality. And the horrors of war, cruelty, friendship and the relationship between humans and animals are all explored in an expressive, and impressive, final few scenes.


So strap yourself in the saddle, the touching tale of War Horse harnesses an emotional intensity that makes it simply the best touring production around right now and demands to be seen.


Michael Sales


War Horse at Curve - Wed 18 Sep to Sat 12 Oct

The show contains loud sound effects, gunfire, flashing lights and strobe lighting.

Running time: 2hrs 40mins incl. 20 min interval

Age Recommendation: 10+

Tickets £57 – £10


ACCESS PERFORMANCES

Captioned: Sat 28 Sep, 2.15pm

Signed: Tue 1 Oct, 7.30pm

Audio–Described: Fri 4 Oct, 7.30pm

Touch Tour: Fri 4 Oct, 5.30pm


AFTERSHOW DISCUSSION

Thu 26 Sep, 7.30pm


Credits

Book by Michael Morpurgo

Adapted by Nick Stafford

In association with Handspring Puppet Company

Directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris


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