There is something unique about the festive season which makes it all at once essential for adults to watch children's theatre.

But the title of the Gardner Arts Centre's Christmas show had a special ring about it which made it sound unlike any pantomime I had previously endured.

The Tinderbox is by Hans Christian Anderson, who also wrote classics such as The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid and The Princess and The Pea.

Anderson's 200th birthday is celebrated this year and for their own commemorations the Gardner teamed up with playwright Charles Way to present this tribute to the author.

Way's re-working of the story uses all the classic elements of the fairytale:

Orphans, witches, skulduggery and a journey to seek your fortune.

To this he has added, to wonderful effect, a modern measure of musical song, simple yet effective set-pieces and moments of farce.

With his telling Way has created a play which is enjoyable for both children and adults without bowing to the typical traditions of the Christmas panto.

The story of pure-hearted Jonas, ridiculed at school, who becomes a great soldier before he falls upon a magical tinderbox is an entertaining one.

Younger audiences will gasp at the simple illusions which see a fullgrown man disappear under a cape, while their parents can giggle at the cheeky asides in the dialogue.

There is a noticeable change in pace during the second half as our hero arrives in Copenhagen to reclaim his long-lost love and prove happiness can never be found in bags of gold.

The cast of The Tinderbox work hard throughout the show to make it appeal to their audience without ever lowering themselves to the level of overly-enthusiastic children's television hosts.

Do not go expecting audience participation, just sit back and enjoy some laughing monks, a drunken dog and a dash of opera, all in a show which appeals to an audience of all ages.