Written for younger readers, Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile is given a witty and vivid update in this musical adaptation.

Directed by Emily Lim, it broadens out the story’s reach without losing any of its magical innocence.

The boastful crocodile, intent on gobbling up juicy children, is brilliantly performed by Malinda Parris, in camp pantomime mode, operating an ingenious puppet costume on wheels.

With its lush jungle setting, the production is a natural fit for Regent’s Park. Rain on the press matinee didn’t dampen spirits: the show’s razzle-dazzle energy is contagious, and music by Ahmed Abdullahi Gallab soars.

Ham & High: Emily Lim's production in Regent's Park features brilliant puppetry and a jungle setEmily Lim's production in Regent's Park features brilliant puppetry and a jungle set (Image: Johan Persson)

The crocodile sets out his agenda with crystal-clear dynamism in a rousing jazzy showbiz number, Secret Plans and Clever Tricks.

He will venture out of the river and through the coconut groves in search of children for lunch, and nothing will stop him. The book and lyrics by Suhayla El-Bushra [with additional lyrics by Tom Brady] capture the gothic mischievousness of Dahl with a contemporary bent: ‘Slice them up Sashimi style,’ Parris’ crocodile belts out to the animated crowd of outraged children.

Cue the absurd arrival of a befuddled scout master [Elise Zavou – superb] with a trio of jungle juniors - adults sporting child-bib puppet costumes [think Diddy TV, here just the right side of creepy].Ham & High: The production is witty and vividThe production is witty and vivid (Image: Johan Persson)

Of course, his health and safety warnings fall on deaf ears, especially when it comes to not touching the rare jungle plant the itchy bottomus.

The unchaperoned trio go freewheeling off into the jungle where they encounter a flighty Roly-Poly Bird [Audrey Brisson], a bashful Humpy-Rumpy the hippopotamus [Nuwan Hugh Perera] who has a flatulence issue, and an elephant Trunky [Joanna Adaran] who longs for more purpose.

While the script plays to some standard kids-show tropes, it manages to be modern without forcing its hand. When the crocodile thanks the Stage Manager for setting up a ladder so he can camouflage himself as a coconut tree, it’s charming because he is such a well realised showman.

The animals’ song about fighting their fears is a tad Disney, but the calypso finale featuring [spoiler alert] the crocodile turned into a singed sausage is worth the ticket price alone.

The Enormous Crocodile runs at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre until June 8.