IF traditional pantomime leaves you cold, then the family Christmas show at Southampton’s Nuffield Theatre can be relied upon to be a heartwarming alternative.

This year’s offering Treasure Island does not disappoint with plenty of swashbuckling pirates, exciting sword fights, lively songs and seafaring adventure along the way.

Bringing an authentic version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s rather brutal tale to the stage in a way that won’t have youngsters sobbing into their ice creams is quite a challenge, but director Patrick Sandford’s production resolves this by not taking itself too seriously.

Some of the dialogue, particularly in the first half, might be hard for young children to follow but light-hearted explanations of the plot are cleverly woven in and there are plenty of songs, scene changes and effects to keep their attention.

After the interval, things get more family-friendly with dancing parrots, the chance for youngsters to join the pirate crew on stage and a hunt through the auditorium for the x that marks the spot.

The highlight for young and old alike has to be the sword fight – but even the most dastardly of pirates were brought back from the dead thanks to the cheers from the audience.

This is a slick, story-led production that doesn’t need big names or flashy effects to be an enjoyable Christmas treat.

Jill Harding