Black Beauty (4 stars)

This article is from 2016.

Black Beauty

Fun and imaginative re-telling of the classic novel has all ages laughing

It's over a year since the McCuddy brothers had a paid job, and times are getting hard. Breakfast has been reduced to five individual Coco Pops each, and a squeeze from the communal teabag. But despite their circumstances, Andy and Andy (yes, the brothers share a name as well as food rations) both remain hopeful that 'just one phone call' will change their fate.

In the meantime, this likeable pair of 'Equestrian Illusionists' delve inside their late mother's favourite book: Black Beauty. Using a range of objects lying around the stage, from welly boots to handbags, the Andys depict Beauty's adventures as per Anna Sewell's late 19th century novel.

Designer Shona Reppe has done a sterling job creating a set that transforms just as pleasingly as the performers. An old trailer, home to 'Hamish' the pantomime horse, has myriad doors and windows through which Andy Cannon and Andy Manley can poke their head in one guise or another.

Both the costume changes and jokes come thick and fast, but the beating heart of this show is the connection between Cannon and Manley. It's hard to imagine how Manley could be more adorable as the slightly hapless younger brother, forever trying to keep up. While Cannon, once again, spins a yarn like no other and keeps his wee brother – and us — on track.

Sewell's novel has been well-loved for over 100 years, with films and TV programmes winning her story a whole new legion of fans in more recent times. This fun, joyful and touching production is a worthy recipient of the Black Beauty baton.

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 24 Dec, then touring.

Black Beauty

Anna Sewell's classic tale is brought to life by Paul Curley and John Currivan.

Platform, Glasgow

Tue 18 Dec

Times to be confirmed / £9 (£6; £5) / 0141 276 9696

Wed 19 Dec

Times to be confirmed / £9 (£6; £5) / 0141 276 9696

Thu 20 Dec

Times to be confirmed / £9 (£6; £5) / 0141 276 9696

…and 3 more dates until 23 Dec

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Sat 29 Dec

£6–£12 / 0131 228 1404

Sun 30 Dec

£6–£12 / 0131 228 1404

Z-Arts, Manchester

Fri 14 Dec

£6–£12 / 0161 226 1912

Sat 15 Dec

£6–£12 / 0161 226 1912

Autism-friendly / Dementia-friendly

£6–£12 / 0161 226 1912

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