DAVID Wood and York’s very own Mike Kenny are the most performed children’s playwrights in Britain, but consistently the most fun is the wondrous work of Nick Lane, Doncaster Rovers supporter, Hull Truck Theatre and York Theatre Royal favourite and compulsive purveyor of fart gags.

Now the Stephen Joseph Theatre has snapped up his services for a joyous, magical new version of Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio that also marks the very impressive Stephen Joseph Theatre debut of new artistic director Paul Robinson. No word of a lie, Pinocchio will be the best choice of children’s theatre you could make this Christmas.

“It’s as delightfully daft as the original story but with a few bonkers surprises,” promised Lane. Surprises, yes, but Lane devotees will be delighted he couldn’t resist his quota of “Bumface” references and raspberry blowing.

As it happens, they sit well with Lane’s interpretation of Pinocchio, the wooden puppet who strives to become a real boy but needs to sort out his attitude problem.

We begin in the Teatro di Spaghetti, with Joseph Hardy setting out as an Italian-accented narrator before Elliott Rennie’s no-nonsense Dean tells him to speak normally, joined by equally amusingly idiotic, bickering Teatro performers Isabella (Pérola Congo) and Gina (Anne-Marie Piazza).

Hardy will transform into Pinocchio, wood-marked boy’s suit and all, while his fellow actor-musicians play 30 characters between them, as well as displaying adroit puppetry skills. Fantastically multi-talented, and funny too, what discoveries they are for the SJT audience to enjoy.

Lane’s dialogue fizzes with so much energy, wit, naughty-boy playfulness, magical drama and a sense of danger too, and if you think Elvis Presley has no place in Pinocchio, think again, courtesy of Rennie.

Lane has a wonderful way of trusting children to keep up with his comedic flights of fancy, his surrealist silliness, but everything, from a blue fairy to a strange Farmer Lady and a scary sea creature, is grounded in inspired, audacious storytelling that adults can enjoy as much as the children. Roald Dahl, Marx Brothers and cabaret all find their echoes here.

Meacock’s designs are a joy, typified by a talking cricket puppet being fitted out in cricket pads and bails, while the music of Simon Slater, returning to his Scarborough roots, with its accordion, brass and stringed instruments, allied to Erin Carter’s choreography, completes Lane’s triumph.

Pinocchio, in The Round, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until December 31. Box office: 01723 370541 or sjt.uk.com