Erica Whyman has been chief executive of Northern Stage since 2005, and this is her final production for the theatre before she joins the RSC in 2013. What a lovely note on which to end.
The Borrowers is an excellent choice for a family show, combining drama and danger with a strong faith in the little people who are as big as their dreams. Charles Way’s script brings humour, with highly-strung mother Homily getting some of the best lines. Karen Traynor is wonderful in the role, always on the top note, infuriatingly snobby and generous in equal measure.
Frances McNamee is easy to love as the adventure-seeking Arrietty who longs to discover the world above the floorboards. Brave and bolshie, clever and kind, she is the girl we all want to be.
Gary Kitching delivers a heartfelt performance as father Pod. Bev Fox is both nasty and vulnerable as Mrs Driver - so much the better for resisting the temptation to play her as a pantomime villain.
Tom Walton is joyfully quirky as Crumpfurl, but deserves special praise for his work as puppet director. Puppets really add to the production, both in the form of Borrowers and the larger-than-life animals they meet. Both puppets and set have been built by designer Andrew Stephenson. Together with Whyman, the world he has created on stage is beautiful, inventive and endlessly fascinating.