Review: Farm Boy

The novelist who created War Horse returns with a sequel to his blockbuster tale.

  • Photograph: Carol Rosegg

    L-R: Richard Pryal and John Walters in Michael Morpurgo's FARM BOY, adapted and...

    Farm Boy at 59E59

  • Photograph: Carol Rosegg

    Richard Pryal in Michael Morpurgo's FARM BOY, adapted and directed by Daniel...

    Farm Boy at 59E59

  • Photograph: Carol Rosegg

    Richard Pryal in Michael Morpurgo's FARM BOY, adapted and directed by Daniel...

    Farm Boy at 59E59

  • Photograph: Carol Rosegg

    John Walters in Michael Morpurgo's FARM BOY, adapted and directed by Daniel...

    Farm Boy at 59E59

Photograph: Carol Rosegg

L-R: Richard Pryal and John Walters in Michael Morpurgo's FARM BOY, adapted and...

Farm Boy at 59E59

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

The holiday season tends to be a time for gluttony, and if you'd like to stuff yourself with delectable dramatizations of books by children's author Michael Morpurgo, there's a cornucopia to choose from. The lavish Broadway production of his young-adult novel War Horse plays to packed houses; Steven Spielberg's majestic film version of the WWI boy-and-his-horse saga is in theaters; and at the other end of the spectrum in size (though not substance), there's Farm Boy, a two-actor adaptation of Morpurgo's War Horse sequel. Still, its unadorned plot and spartan production—just a chair and an old green tractor for set pieces—wrest palpable emotion from the story of an elderly man passing down his legacy to his grandson.

Wise and weathered Grandfather Walters is the son of War Horse's Albert, the young man who went into battle to bring his beloved horse, Joey, home. He's still living on the family farm in Devon and working it with his grandson (Richard Pryal), who's spending part of his gap year there. After Grandfather recounts Albert and Joey's saga (it's equally compelling in precis form), he reveals a secret (a G-rated one), then in a burst of story theater, we learn a bit about Joey and Albert, just as stubborn, after the war and how the tractor came to the family.

Adapter-director Daniel Buckroyd and his winsome performers turn this rambling narrative into an absorbing and tender, if sometimes slight, tale of generational devotion. "It's the way he tells them," Grandson says, explaining why he loves to hear his elder's stories. Likewise, Farm Boy revels in the power of a tale well told.

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59E59. Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo. Written and directed by Daniel Buckroyd. With John Walters, Richard Pryal. 1hr 5mins. No intermission. See complete event information.