IT is rare for a theatre show to give me goosebumps from start to finish.

It is also rare that such a performance could leave a lump in my throat and bring tears to my eyes.

But the opening night of the National Theatre’s production of War Horse at the Bristol Hippodrome on Wednesday did both those things – and a hell of a lot more.

Having seen the truly mesmerising performance two years ago, I knew back then that directors Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris had created something very special.

Based on Michael Morpurgo’s best-selling novel, the poignant show celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and it takes no genius to work out why, even after a decade, the show still proves to be a sell-out with crowds across the country.

War Horse tells the story of young Albert and his beloved horse Joey, who has been requisitioned to fight for the British army in the First World War.

Caught in the crossfire of both sides, Joey withstands unimaginable obstacles to survive in a truly uplifting story which sees Albert, who is not old enough to enlist, embark on a perilous mission to find his horse and bring him home.

The show, filled with hope, love and friendship, is brought to life by the astounding work of the Handspring Puppet Company whose life-like horse puppets really make you forget that people are behind the mechanics, mirroring every action, every noise and every small yet noticeable feature of the horses.

I found myself not only watching the performance but every fibre in my body felt the exact emotions as the characters on stage - something that all shows should strive to achieve.

Thomas Dennis, who played Albert, brought such an innocence to the role and it was his loving bond with Joey that captured the hearts of everyone.

War Horse had previously been adapted for film in 2011 by Steven Spielberg and while it was a brilliant movie, seeing the effortless movements of the puppet horses on stage is a feeling like no other.

As director Tom Morris so rightly said at the end of the show, War Horse isn't just a performance. It is a show that has the power to ignite your imagination and leave you in fits of laughter and floods of tears.

War Horse is at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, November 11.

Tickets, priced £22.40-65.40, are available from or 08448 713012.