The Borrowers, Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, until January 8.

Director Patrick Sandford has come up with a very special Christmas treat, imaginatively and attractively played throughout and delivered with skill and enthusiasm.

Wisely he brings in panto elements in the second half with a degree of audience participation and a host of kiddies on stage.

But even more wisely, he makes his aim to tell a cracking story crackingly well.

There’s something very appealing about the notion of little people under the floorboards being responsible for all those moments when something goes missing.

The little people have borrowed it.

But theirs is precarious, dangerous existence - and it’s not long before they are forced to leave their “home” in search of somewhere safe to stay.

A measure of this production’s achievement is that we share every moment with them in a world where a boot is big enough to sleep in, a world where a wasp doesn’t just sting you - it engages you in a joust.

Sandford conveys the varying proportions with wit and sparkle. One lovely scene shows us a Borrower/human conversation on stage, simultaneously from the human and from the Borrower’s perspective.

A lively cast - led by Julia Hills - keeps it all rolling along nicely, and imagination - both ours and the director’s - does the rest.

If you fancy something rather classier than panto but still with all the panto fun, then borrow your way to the Nuffield this Christmas for a night to savour.

Phil Hewitt