It was my favourite story as a child and my cherished copy of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid with its blurry, ethereal illustrations by Chihiro Iwasaki remains on the shelf.

Yet for all its otherworldliness, this tale of love, loss and selfless sacrifice written in 1837 has endured. Disney saw its potential to for a 1989 animated movie and now in 2015, dramatist Polly Teale has reworked it for the stage in her new production Mermaid.

This version, a collaboration between Nottingham Playhouse and Polly’s physical theatre company Shared Experience, is both a tender and faithful tribute to the original and a reworking relevant to modern life.

There is a prince and a young mermaid who loves him. The world the prince inhabits is no fairytale however. He is involved in a war with guns and death, beset by appearance and protocol. When he falls from his ship he’s presumed lost, the mermaid saves him and soon after gives up her voice to leave her watery home and walk beside him on the land.

Narrating the story is Blue, a present-day schoolgirl facing the pains and problems of puberty. She’s teased and ostracised for wearing charity shop cast-offs, so she retreats into the world of make-believe for escape.

The performance is beautifully relised by the actor/dancers who writhe and plunge using only their body shapes to create tails and fins. When the merfolk rise to the surface the cast dunk their heads in a tub of water so the droplets glisten in their hair and fly across the first few rows to connect the audience with the watery depths. When the mermaids become party guests on the prince’s ship they wriggle into spangly dresses and as easily slide out of them when the boat is in peril and they are thrown overboard.

The most compelling scene is when the little mermaid gives up her voice to the sea witch – her mouth spraying blood as the curtain falls for the interval. When we retake our seats she is lying on the shore. The prince takes her in and his grateful parents embrace her – a royal wedding is just the distraction they’ve been hoping for. The mysterious princess is painfully waxed, powered and thrust before the paparazzi poised on impossibly high heels. What price a woman’s love indeed.