There is an extraordinary moment towards the start of Kindur, one of the highlights of this year's Imaginate children's theatre festival. We have been enjoying some elegant dance played out in front of hi-tech video projections by Italy's Compagnia TPO, when suddenly the focus shifts to the audience. On the way in, everyone has been given a woolly ball to pin to their chest – now they start to glow. We realise we are not merely observers in "the adventurous life of sheep in Iceland", but participants: it's a signal to bleat or wave or, for selected audience members, join the flock on stage to do battle with the Icelandic elements, from melting ice sheets to smouldering volcanoes.
With images responding to movement, Kindur makes exquisite use of motion-tracking technology without compromising the quality of Davide Venturini's crisp choreography. Doubly impressive is the way the young audience needs no instruction about how to participate. They follow like, well, sheep.
More immersive still is a piece called .h.g. by Switzerland's Trickster-P, a truly chilling version of Hansel and Gretel for the over-nines. Guided by commentary over headphones, you travel alone through a series of gloomy rooms to catch sight of distant cottages, nighttime forests and children's bones. Even the whiff of gingerbread – which mysteriously appears in the space – seems sinister in an installation that gets right to the creepy heart of this tale by the Brothers Grimm. After the lonely crunch of snow, the chilling sight of the witch's bare feet and the crackle of the hungry oven, you are reminded that it is the siblings' resourcefulness that saves them. As you prepare to leave and put your shoes back on, your foot rubs against something – the little white pebbles that, you realise, have marked your route, just as they do the children's. Your escape puts the horror into perspective.
Then again, getting a sense of perspective can be hard. That is why co-creators Andy Manley and Rob Evans frame their new show, Mikey and Addie, with images of outer space. Charmingly performed and beautifully designed, it is a bittersweet story about coming to terms with the loss of childhood innocence, after Mikey discovers his father is not the big-shot Nasa spaceman he'd always believed. It's not the greatest dilemma in the world (that's partly the point), but the show makes up in good-heartedness what it lacks in dramatic weight.