A miniature, golden and glittering town has cropped up in the artsdepot’s Studio Theatre this Christmas. This is the Land of Lights by Oily Cart, a delightful, immersive adventure for under 5s that shines throughout.

Doolally Professor Bumble and his friends, an ethereally-costumed trio, invite us through the theatre doors to another world. Houses glow in the darkness, children chat to the cast and we peek through the windows of the tiny homes only to find nobody in. Where are all the thumb-sized residents? This promenade touch is no gimmick or unnecessary ask of an audience who have paid to sit down, but a neat way to cast us in the adventure.

The fun continues when we take our seats on the stage. Pol, our tiny guide and the only member of the town left, floats to the stage in her hot air balloon. She needs our help to look for stars that have fallen from the sky. Cue a mess that only children can create: jelly making hands sticky, sleeves dipping into bubbles and seeds scattering on the floor. But no-one minds the spillages, as these kids are determined to find the stars, whatever the sloppy cost. It is a sensory delight, with herbs to smell and taste, squidgy substances to touch and beautiful live music to bob to, all to solve the puzzle of a hot air balloon that won’t fly and a tiny town without its tiny people.

Unfailingly, the cast of three charm and engage their young audience, whoever it is they play. And there really is a rich and varied host of colourful, fun characters, from a cook with a bowtie to a pirate with a fondness for sparkles. The actors are first and foremost friendly. No shy child is too shy and no kid who likes shrieking has to shush. Everyone is welcome in the Land of Lights. But given the easy relationship the cast build with the children, there is potential for more slapstick, foolery and giggles, beyond their strictly comfy and safe approach. It is the adults who laugh most – at the kids’ stern-faced concentration shoving their hands into jelly.

Brimming with neat touches, charm and creativity, Land of Lights is a treat. Even the relatively stiff imaginations of adults will bend to engage with Pol’s problems. With its careful, surprising details, dazzling costumes and committed cast, it’s not the theatre we say goodbye to when the show ends, but a treasured glimpse of a magical, hidden land.

Land of Lights is playing at artsdepot until 3 January 2016. For more information and tickets, see the artsdepot website. Photo: Oily Cart.