When you find yourself saying “Who even thinks of doing that?” a dozen or so times, you know you’re watching something unique and ingenious. My kids, ages 11 and 12, have grown up in theater. They’ve attended every kind of production imaginable since they were born, so my son saying, “This might have been my favorite show ever!” after War Horse at the Buell theater, carries some weight. We had watched the movie together a few years ago, and I had a hard time imagining what the stage show would be like with the need for animals, battle scenes and an ever-changing set spanning countries. The answer is pure artistry. The jagged torn strip of a projection screen across the top of the proscenium was truly inspired, particularly the moment of transition from a bleeding battlefield to a field of poppies – breathtaking. The soundtrack of Irish ballads sung mostly accapella by a strolling troubadour, gave a melancholy feel to the whole production and was so much more effective than full orchestration would have been. And of course, the horses – I can’t even call them puppets – are masterpieces, with fully developed personalities. The subtle nuances of movement, and even intent, that these puppeteers project is transcendent. Their skill allows the audience to buy in 100% to the relationships between horse and horse, and horse and boy. You know this by the sniffles all around when Topthorn’s puppeteers gently extract themselves from his frame and solemnly exit the stage. What I most appreciated about War Horse is it’s absolute uniqueness, the creators not trying in any way to be a formulaic, big-number Broadway show, but rather making production choices to truly serve the story. Lovely. It’s a privilege to sit in the audience.