Not Now, Bernard and Other Monster Stories, Mercury Studio Theatre, Colchester. Until October 31.

IT isn’t easy ticking all those theatrical boxes one needs to do when putting on a children’s show.

First of all it has to be engaging, colourful and a feast for the eyes. Then it has to be funny but ideally also deliver a underlying message that little ones will understand.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it has to tell a story.

Sometimes theatre-makers can forget that, worrying about all the other stuff they need to cram in, but thankfully the team at Colchester’s Mercury Theatre know how to tell a good story.

They’re so good at it in this show they tell three, all from the pen of the brilliant David McKee (he of Mr Ben fame!), fabulously adapted by the Mercury’s artistic director Daniel Buckroyd.

The premise of the production is a young girl whose parents are painting her bedroom so she doesn’t feel left out with the arrival of a new baby.

From this jumping off point, the three McKee tales, Not Now, Bernard, The Two Monsters, and The Monster and the Teddy Bear, are delicately woven in.

To make all of this happen a cast of just three actors, Laura Curnick, Tim Freeman and Sarah Moss, work their socks off being mum, dad and child, as well as monsters, narrator and of course, Bernard.

A simple, and particularly white set, although the reason for the whiteness is revealed later, is the backdrop for the stories, while boxes of props provide ample fun and laughter along the way.

One of the crucial ingredients which makes a good children’s show great, is putting something in for the adults, and there were plenty of sweet asides for us big people to smile at, in particular the television scene, where I laughed so loudly the boy in front of me turned round.

Other fun bits were the ‘green’ monster, in which the Mercury had a taken a little leaf out of Avenue Q for its clever puppet creation, the inflatable teddy bear, and the mountain made out of newspaper.

The Mercury are getting pretty good at this children’s theatre lark and I for one cannot wait for their next show.