As the end of half term quickly approaches and a new term at school looms, why not treat your children to an evening watching David Wood's magical adaptation of James And The Giant Peach, presented by Hertfordshire County Youth Theatre at Watford Palace Theatre.

Each year, the theatre company works with young actors from Hertfordshire in an annual production at the theatre and previous productions have included: Fantastic Mr Fox, Peter Pan and Frankenstein. However, in celebration of Roald Dahl’s centenary year, the classic tale of James and his insect friends has been brought to life on stage this week and it is a treat for all ages.

During the past few days, I had been wondering how the director, who aptly shares the same name as the hero, James Williams, was planning to build a life-size piece of fruit. I was very impressed when the curtain was pulled up and I caught a glimpse of his creation of a huge round, wooden peach, which was filled with holes so the audience could peer inside and would probably not have fared well if it was really placed in the sea or the air.

The young actors gave confident and humorous performances throughout the musical, especially the two girls playing James’ cruel aunts. Sponge was played by Sarah Fenlon and Spiker was taken on by Emily De Fraine, and they both gave standout and memorable routines, as they were very expressive and unlikeable in their disgust and cruel treatment towards their nephew. I even found myself breathing a sigh of relief when they met their unfortunate demise.

The actors playing The Centipede, The Earthworm, The Old Green Grasshopper, The Lady Bug and Miss Spider were all very believable too, particularly the Earthworm, who was portrayed by Niall Hannan, and provided the audience with many laughs with his cynical outlook on life.

Jamie Wheeler gave a strong performance as protagonist James, as the children were on his side throughout and laughed when he laughed and gave a sympathetic sigh when his character cried.

The show is aimed at young children but it still appeals to adults too, as I was filled with nostalgic memories of reading the book when I was younger and remembered how I used to wish I could escape reality and explore the world on board my very own oversized fruit.

Roald Dahl’s stories always stay with you throughout your life, as they grip your imagination in your early years and then as you get older, you truly understand how powerful the messages in his books are.

Hertfordshire County Youth Theatre captured the essence of James And The Giant Peach, as like many of Roald’s tales, it delved into childhood fears and a feeling of needing to escape a bad situation, but at the same time explored the exhilaration of friendship, adventure and finding a place to call home.

Star-rating: *****

Watford Palace Theatre, Clarendon Road, Watford, WD17 1JZ, until Saturday, October 29, 2pm and 6pm. Details: 01923 235455