HANS Christian Andersen’s classic tale of ‘The Little Mermaid’ has been given the Bristol Old Vic treatment for the festive season, providing families with an enchanting alternative to traditional panto fare.

Former Skins writer Joel Horwood has come up with this modern adaptation, which, with the help of director Simon Godwin, is a refreshing step away from the Disnified version of the story that most children are now familiar with.

The very talented cast, including 2013 Patrons’ Prize winners Lindsay Dukes and Martin Bassindale, make the most of the excellent set, shimmering costumes and lighting to make the Little Mermaid ‘swim’, using movements choreographed by Toby Sedgewick.

Katie Moore plays the perfect mermaid, singing her way through the first half of the show in worlds both above and below the waves, although it was Billy Howle, playing the bumbling Prince Will, who stole the show in the much livelier second half.

Beatboxing and rap music are not generally associated with Yuletide productions, but in this seasonal offering they bring light to what is, in fact, a quite a dark fairy story.

It’s great to see Old Vic stalwart Tristan Sturrock in fine form, as ever, and Beverly Rudd (most familiar sat behind the tills on Sky 1’s ‘Trollied’) excelled as the evil Sea Witch.

Great visual effects, catchy songs and a bearded princess called Inga all served to ensure this production of The Little Mermaid went swimmingly.

The Little Mermaid continues its run at the Bristol Old Vic until January 18, 2014.