Theatre Review: The Horse & His Boy
The Horse and His Boy
Story Image: Jay Turvey as Bree, Matt Nethersole as Shasta, Madelyn Kriese as Aravis and Kristi Frank as Hwin with the cast of The Horse and His Boy. Photo by Emily Cooper.
Slider Image: Matt Nethersole as Shasta in The Horse and His Boy. Photo by David Cooper.
The Horse and His Boy is the 3rd Novel in a series of seven books by C. S. Lewis called The Chronicles of Narnia. The series was written in the mid 19th century and the most famous of all the stories was the first book The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe does have an adaptation for stage as I have seen one put on by a local theatre company however, it is better known for the movie made in 2005 and a sequel a few years later.
Tim Carroll, Artistic Director at the Shaw Festival has brought two of the seven stories to the stage. Last year The Magician’s Nephew was cleverly choreographed and staged in corrugate and was a hit for the Festival Theatre. This year The Horse and His Boy, the third story in the series, is being brought to life at the same Festival Theatre and is running till July 21st.
The Horse and His Boy is a story about Shasta (Matt Nethersole) a boy that was raised by a fisherman on the coast of a place called Calormene. The fisherman sells Shasta to a nobleman and is taken from the village he knows as home. Whilst waiting in a barn to meet his new master he is befriended by a talking horse from Narnia called Bree (Jay Turvey). Bree belongs to the nobleman and he tells Shasta that he is treated cruelly, and suspects Shasta may also be abused, so the two plan an escape.
Along the journey the they meet up with Aravis (Madelyn Kriese) and her talking horse Hwin (played by Shaw favourite Kristi Frank). Aravis is escaping her father who insists she marries a man she does not love. Eventually the two horses and their riders become friends and decide to complete their journey of escape together.
As the foursome journey through adversity to reach their destination they encounter Rabadash who plans to invade Narnia and kidnap Queen Susan. The mighty Aslan, The Lion, appears and luckily scares the entourage into outrunning the evil Rabadash, and the group finally reach their destination.
Happily, we reunite with Mr. Tumnus from the first book, and later spend time with Queen Susan and her brother Edmund. Eventually Shasta finds out that he was kidnapped as a baby and he is actually the twin brother of Prince Corin the current ruler of Archenland. In a twist, Shasta is the older twin, and he is the rightful Prince. On this adventure everybody gets a puppy in the end.
It can’t be easy to recreate a talking horse and a rider. The theatre has used a combination of actors and wood mounts to complete the illusion. Screen graphics in the back drops help you visualize the journey they take, but the sets are minimalist in design and therefore don’t have the impact they should. The costumes are also lack lustre, a combination of street clothes and rags. Last year’s TMN was much more creative.
The acting is good, the story line is gratifying. I recommend The Horse and His Boy for families and the young at heart. It would be a great way to spend some time with the kids and introduce them to theatre this summer while they’re off school.
I’m giving it 3 ½ stars out of 5.
By Jenifer Cass
For tickets visit www.shawfest.com