A motherless monkey, a scruffy giant, a wise old man and a fish with a big imagination – Scamp Theatre’s Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales stitches together Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s beloved adventures with wit, innovation and endearing silliness. Children’s shows usually make me smile, but this one made me continually grin. All beautifully directed by Sally Cookson, this is a children’s treat that – unlike Haribo – adults too can guiltlessly enjoy.

Though Donaldson and Scheffler’s books surely sit in many of the audience’s homes, well-read with stains, thumb marks and creases, the stories fold out fresh and new on stage. They literally fold out: from boxes scattering the space come strange objects, thrown between the versatile acting, singing and dancing trio, poked at, frowned over and experimented with until the items take on lives of their own: a scarf becomes a hissing, writhing snake; a white tube transforms into an elephant’s trunk; yellow balls unravel as anorak hats, promptly transforming the three narrators into fishermen ready to tell the next tale. It is slick, fun and never boring.

It is the show’s encouragement of imagination that makes the performance special. It is not an inferior copy of CBeebies on stage, and nor is it just actors reading Donaldson and Scheffler’s books with better accents than parents might attempt. Animals are not beautifully sculpted puppets, but square pillows with ears. A shark roams the stage, only a shadow projected onto the wall, but glowering and terrifying anyway. It is subtle and low-tech, but competes with contrastingly budget-heavy television and films.

Actors Joseph Carey, Maxwell James and Darren Seed somehow don’t falter in their relentless energy. They switch between accents, puppetry and genuinely beautiful harmonies and songs by Benji Bower. Perhaps the trio are fuelled by the endless young high-pitched giggles their fun is creating, and the echoing adult chuckles (prompted often, at least in my case, at quite how much the kids are enjoying it).

Like many shows for younger kids, the audience is what makes this show special. I hardly need to review Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales: the evidence is all around me in the gasps, giggles, screams of “he’s funny!” and all the other odd noises kids somehow manage to produce – it certainly beats the phone buzzes of adult shows. It may only be a tiddler, but this show has a big heart and is brimming with inventiveness.

Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales is playing at the Leicester Square Theatre until 31 August. For more information and tickets, see the Leicester Square Theatre website. Photo by Steve Ullathorne.