Posted by Jay Livingston
At the curtain calls for War Horse last night, the loudest applause was for the three people who operate the title character. I suspect that the true object of the audience's admiration was The Handspring Puppet Company that created the fantastic creatures we saw on stage.
Seeing is believing. An, as much social and cognitive psychology has shown, believing is seeing. Or more importantly, not seeing. The wonder of the illusion on stage comes when we see a horse and not merely a horse-shaped lattice of cane. But if we continue to see the puppeteer, if we cannot unsee the puppeteer, we don't quite know what to believe.
When the horse first eats oats from a bucket, you wonder: is the horse doing this, overcoming his reluctance to get near a human (as the story has it) or is the silent farmer leading the animal to lower his head to the oats? (A bit of that scene comes at about this 0:15 mark in this montage.)