Nothing hammers home just how British I am quite like my pathetic soppiness about animals. Show me a tiny kitten and I will coo and fuss over it with the ridiculous show of borderline insanity most people reserve for newborn human babies. Sneak a heart-rending RSCPA advert in between installments of Coronation Street and I will be a helpless, weeping mess by the time the theme tune rolls once more, pledging my annual salary to save a miserable-looking mongrel in a shed.
And this was the real reason that I hadn't, until this week, made it to see War Horse, the theatrical production that everyone else has been raving about since it opened at the National Theatre back in 2007. I love London's West End as much as the next girl (hell, I've seen Phantom four or five times!), but from a mere scan of its plot I could see that this play was just asking for all kinds of emotional upset-related trouble. Adapted from a Michael Morpurgo novel, War Horse is the story of a boy and his horse (or a horse and his boy depending on whether you're more into animals than people), woven between rural Devon and war-torn France during the First World War. So we've got animals, death, fear, uncertainty and families torn apart. Dangerous combination. Even an article in the New Yorker about the show's transfer to Broadway back in 2011 made me blub on the bus. Of the million horses that the British army took to the war, only 60,000 returned to their stables back home. Roughly the same number of horses were killed as soldiers during WWI. But the horses never agreed to make this ultimate sacrifice for their country. Yep, War Horse was going to leave me in bits. It would be crazy for me to go.