THE silly grin was still on my face long after the lights went up after this infectiously funny performance of The Elves and the Shoemakers.

Intimate and beautifully designed, The Berry Theatre is the perfect venue for this four cast delight so you capture every expression and where the theatrics are often at their most stunningly simple yet jaw-droppingly brilliant.

For the children it brought this well known, but little performed, tale to life and for adults it provided drollery and flashes of brilliance as well as toetapping music.

It is just before Christmas and the shoemaker, an expressively superb Adrian Palmer, and his wife, the convincingly doddery Rose van Hoof, are facing a cold and lean festive day.

Every day is a struggle but their touching relationship held the audience spellbound.

When life can get no worse on to the scene come the elves, first as artful puppets and then in the form of the energetic Tigger Blaize and Gilbert Taylor.

Their childlike antics and mannerisms touched a chord inside every parent while youngsters howled with laughter at their silly language and mini tantrums.

Brought to the stage by Theatre Hullabaloo, this is a fantastic introduction to the theatre for youngsters. It combines musical numbers, instruments, puppetry and slapstick while being only oneand- a-half hours long so children stay engaged.

The Christmas treat of sweetie-throwing and handing out a colouring and puzzle sheet at the end made it the complete package. It was simple – but stunning – from Bek Palmer’s clever and innovative set which had more entrances than Hogwarts Castle and an impressive action scene with a suit of clothes. This is a real Christmas cracker.

Runs until Christmas Eve.