By D. Lanier Shook March 3, 2019
This article was hard to write —- so I didn’t! The Academy of the Arts’ LOGOS Theatre did such a good job on The Horse and His Boy I’m writing two articles about it. This article is more for adults and the second will be more for children. At the obvious risk I’m comparing the play to one of the most successful sword and fantasy production ever — Game of Thrones.
Just to be clear, I don’t watch Game Of Thrones. I have the the introduction (the computer generated map of George R.R. Martin’s recreation of Middle Ages Europe) and read the Pilot Script (or most of it — I skipped several bits) and am impressed by the show for its historic references and the zombies. But while I don’t plan to watch it, it provides too convenient a point of reference to ignore. So, without further ado, here’s 7 Reasons The Horse and His Boy at LOGOS Theatre in Taylors is better than Game of Thrones.
- C.S. Lewis Was An Expert In Fairy Tales And It Shows
While he is famous for his theological writings, C.S. Lewis was not a theologian or even a minister (that I’m aware of). While he is famous for his fantasy books and his association with The Inklings, C.S. Lewis was not a professional writer. He was an Oxford don (I hope I just used that term correctly). He went to Oxford and never left (except for service during the First World War). Basically he was such a good student and so smart they hired him after he graduated.
What did C.S. Lewis teach? English literature. He was an expert of fairy tales. This is why Lewis’ Narnia has the feel that it does — Lewis took what he knew and poured it into this work. George R.R. Martin is obviously a good writer who can create a quality story universe his readers can’t get enough of, but C.S. Lewis’ fiction is different because it’s high fantasy. This means its extremely classic fantasy, with all that makes fantasy what it is.
Three quick examples are required at this point. First, Lewis included classic mythological figures. In this play, when the twin babies are born we see a centaur look into the eyes of one and make a prophecy. Mr. Tumnus — a key figure in the stories — is a faun. Secondly, Narnia is a children’s story. I’m not saying fantasy can’t be adult — and many of our beloved fairy tales were originally far more adult than they are now — but there’s something about a children’s fairy tale that has a certain appeal.
2. LOGOS Theatre’s The Horse and His Boy is Visually Appealing
Obviously Game of Thrones is very visually appealing — in several different ways — and I’ve heard rave reviews of its cinematography. The difference between LOGOS’ The Horse and His Boy and Game of Thrones is computer graphics. I think computer graphics are one of the greatest thing to ever hit the big screen, but when you see The Horse and His Boy at LOGOS Theatre the set you see was not painted on a screen in a studio. After the play, Noah Stratton told those of us on the Backstage Tour that ten thousand man hours of work went into building the stage.
I can’t adequately stress how visually appealing this production is. First we have the set, which is straight out of a Disney movie. From the architecture to the costumes to the cups and swords and shields and even more, this is a feast for the eyes. Although the banquet scene may be the most memorable scene, others certain rate up there.
Secondly — and probably more significant — the puppetry is incredible. You will be surprised how lifelike the puppets and how the presence of the puppet-masters is hardly noticeable. The design and the movement change everything I’ve seen about puppets. The dragons in Game of Thrones are amazing, but they are drawn on a computer. These are real physical creations that you can meet after the show if you choose the Backstage Tour.
3. LOGOS Theatre Knows How to Tell A Story
The storytelling in The Horse and His Boy is a key factor in its quality and enjoyability. If you’re familiar with the book you’ll recognize that while they haven’t changed the story, they have changed some Points of View. For example, this story begins with the birth of the twins instead of with Shasta in Calormen.
There is so much comedy in this story I would venture to call it a comedy. I have to mention Aravis’ cousin Lasaraleen, who is depicted in a wonderful “valley-girl” depiction. She does a great job, along with other supporting characters. But ultimately it was the writers and producers who decided how the story would be told. Then there’s Shasta’s riding lesson that is hilarious.
Then there’s the way stories are told by characters. You have the listener standing there while the other character not only relates their tale, but the actual memories are enacted on stage around them, with the narrating character in costume from the memory and interacting in the told tale. Its amazingly done.
Finally I have to give credit back to C.S. Lewis. This is after all a fairy tale. It feels like a fairy tale — not unlike Cinderella in some ways — and that is rewarding.
4. LOGOS Theatre Gives Special Effects a Whole New Meaning
Up to this point I haven’t mentioned LOGOS Theatre’s other C.S. Lewis play I saw, Prince Caspian. (Click here to read that review and learn why Prince Caspian was better than The Princess Bride.) One reason I cited was the amazing special effects that LOGOS bring to life — literally.
If you’ve been to plays you have an expectation of special effects on stage. But LOGOS brings their special effects to movie-quality levels without computer graphics. One huge example in this performance is the use of fog to accentuate the encounter between Shasta and Aslan.
Once again I have to mention the puppets. These puppets feel real and I mean that. The design and the movement are key to this. There are four puppets in this in all and I assure you they will not disappoint.
Finally I have to mention the movement of stage furniture. As in Prince Caspian the LOGOS Theatre creates an amazing illusion of movement in a small space. They’re assisted by a turntable in the stage, but the way the props are literally moved around the stage creates an effect that is testament to LOGOS’ knowledge and the actors’ skill.
5. LOGOS’ The Horse and His Boy is More Inspirational Than Game of Thrones
I’m not suggesting that Game of Thrones doesn’t have inspiring moments, but I’ve never got the impression it was designed to be inspiring. Its a ripping good yarn and that’s not a bad thing. But The Horse and His Boy at LOGOS is inspiring in ways that George R.R. Martin could never be off or on screen.
For starters, its an inspiring story not unlike Cinderella that features important life lessons about things like pride and prejudice. C.S. Lewis set out to write “morally significant fiction” and he succeeded. In an interview on The Bob McLain Show Douglas Gresham — the stepson of C.S. Lewis shared that he had striven to protect the story and turned down alot of offers that would have changed the story.
Second, this is inspiring to children because they can meet the cast — if you take the Backstage Tour — and could be inspired to looking into the theater themselves.They will see that these actors — including children their age — are flesh and blood people from their community and will realize that they, too could be on that stage — literally. LOGOS Theatre is a local institution and is actively looking for cast members — in fact they asked people to sign up for auditions prior to the performance.
Finally, LOGOS Theatre is operated by The Academy of the Arts, which is a theatre school. They have summer camps in which kids can learn all aspects of stagecraft and even make their own movies. The Academy is even starting its own Conservatory and you can learn all about this by clicking here to visit their website.
6. The Cast of The Horse and His Boy is Amazing
Obviously one expects the main characters to be good, but — especially in a huge production like this with over a hundred cast members — the secondary characters and supporting cast are essential to a good production. LOGOS has amazing supporting characters in their productions. I already mentioned Lasaraleen, but Rabbadash and even The Fisherman and Hermit are other good examples. And once again — even if you feel like you couldn’t be a main character— as you watch this play, you could be that supporting character.
7. LOGOS’ Theatre’s The Horse and His Boy is Family Friendly
Game of Thrones is Game of Thrones and it should be. I’m not going to criticize an author or producer for their content. I may not watch it, but they already guessed that.
Having said that, The Horse and His Boy is a play for children (and their parents and uncles and aunts). Its family friendly and even offers messages you will want your children to learn. So, if what I’ve said makes you interested in this production you’ll be glad to know its running well into April. Just click here to learn about the showtimes, ticket availability, and how to take the Backstage Tour and meet the cast.