The Borrowers at the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton

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The Nuffield Theatre has upheld a reputation for quality Christmas entertainment for many years. Mary Norton’s classic, The Borrowers, provides everything needed for another successful show.

When human beings have to share their house with a family of tiny people under the floorboards, the theatre can really show off its skills as the two worlds collide. A whole box of imaginative tricks is used here to give us big and little at the same time. It is a treat to see so many children intrigued by the imaginative possibilities of theatre without a computer-generated effect in sight.

A strong cast make the story vivid and engaging. Eleanor Yates’s Arrietty radiates all the frustration of being protected from an exciting world by the parents she loves but can’t wait to leave. Oliver Spiller is splendid as the boys she encounters, both the big one and the little one. There is some well integrated support from a small army of children as mice and assorted insects.

The production is totally child-centred, well-paced and lively, even finding time to stop off for some good-old participation for the kids who can’t wait to have a shout and get up on stage.

Until January 8.

DAVID PENROSE