SOMETIMES, in our Christmas crackers we get a real satisfying surprise.

Every year the Unity Theatre ensure that its festive offering stands out in the same way.

The Unity and Action Transport in a co- production with disability arts organisation DaDaFest have created a charming show that makes the most of all our imaginations.

We meet Belle (Rose-Marie Christian), Beast (Edward Day), father (Stephen Collins) and the multi-talented Simone Lewis as the fabulous butler.

A tour-de-force of comic timing and mime.

Director Nina Hajiyianni and writer Kevin Dyer provide all the right seasonal ingredients.

A crisp, tight, funny re-telling of the tale complete with fine performances from an energetic, physical cast of four and a sparkling score from the very reliable composer and musical director Patrick Dineen.

His lyrics and melodies remind me of the wonderful work of craftsman Paul Williams and his diverse output from Bugsy Malone to The Muppets.

Here the songs are an integral part of moving the narrative on and that is a trademark of Patrick's work.

This is not the Disney Beauty and the Beast (we are happily reminded of that fact by cheeky asides from the cast).

But the message is the same ... beauty is in the eyes, senses and feelings of the beholder.

There is an effective stage set from LIPA's Lena Kennard with red drapes, candles and dining table and a clever use of mirror frames.

The 90-minute production - with interval - includes a sequence where the audience is invited to go on stage for a conga.

The Unity has done it again and with a musical that works on all levels

This is a festive show that ticks all the right Christmas boxes.

Globe verdict:

Delightfully inventive - four stars

The show is on until January 5.

Tickets are from the box office on 0151 709 4988