(Mark Fisher’s article appeared in the Guardian, 12/11.)
They should have called it Horse Play. This collaboration between Shona Reppe, Andy Manley and Andy Cannon is not so much an adaptation of the Anna Sewell novel as a free-associating theatrical gymkhana. A triumph of object-theatre stagecraft, it takes a rosette-worthy canter through a stableful of horse-themed gags, while paying touching testament to the value of resilience.
For a while, it looks as if it’ll have nothing to do with Black Beauty at all. Manley and Cannon play the Famous McCuddy Brothers, equestrian illusionists stranded on the outskirts of Edinburgh for want of employment in the pantomime-horse business. Not until they resort to selling their belongings do they start reading their late mother’s copy of the novel, enacting its most memorable adventures as they go.