“The lamps are going out all over Europe. They will not be lit again in our lifetime.”—Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary, August 1914
Set in World War I era Europe, the Lincoln Center Theater performance of War Horse reminds us of our boundless power, which may be used to destroy as well as to create. The hero of the show—the stallion Joey—symbolizes the innocent beings who are physically and psychologically destroyed by war.
Set during World War I, War Horse showcases the inconvenient realities behind war by pointing out that there is never any single perpetrator or winner in war: everyone loses. Swept into the maelstrom of nationalistic belligerence, few young men escape an early death. Just like the main human character, Albert, everyone has a poignant story waiting to be revealed. Unlike him, however, many never have a chance.
Albert’s tale unfolds in the rural English village of Devon, where Albert lives on a farm with his parents, Ted and Rose Narracott. Much like the intemperate yet seemingly inevitable need of the European nation-states to proof themselves worthy to their neighbors, Ted Narracott wagers an outrageous bet on Joey the horse that his meager lifestyle cannot afford. Interestingly, the serenity of Devon remains undisturbed as Ted’s tender-hearted son Albert takes Joey under his wing.
In stark contrast to the idea of man’s superiority over everything else, Albert’s love for the horse leads him on an unbelievable journey to reclaim what is rightfully his. Albert stumbles along the way, ending up in the hospital at one point, while Joey aimlessly wanders around a world in which it seems as if the entire human race has lost its mind. Perhaps Joey is the one nascent hope that transcends lingual, ethnic and even cultural differences.
A refreshing new look at the Great War through the eyes of innocents, War Horse is a promise for peace.
Image from The Guardian