IN my 36 years as a dedicated theatregoer (29 of them as a professional theatre critic), I have been blessed to attend theatre festivals and showcases all over the world, from Armenia to South Korea, Portugal to Quebec, Australia to Barbados. I can honestly say that, in my many encounters with theatre programmes internationally, I have never come across a festival that is as consistently brilliant in its programming as the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival.

Like his predecessor Tony Reekie (who ran the event for 21 excellent years), ­artistic director Noel Jordan (who has now created seven programmes) ­curates the festival to the highest level. ­Whether it is theatre, dance, physical ­performance or New Circus, be it work for ­preschool children or adolescents, Jordan’s ­programmes offer international work of remarkably, and consistently, high ­quality.

A case in point from this year’s ­programme (which ends today with ­performances of five different productions) was the Dutch/­Norwegian co-production I… Er… Me (festival run ended). As startling visually as it is ­inventive theatrically, this exceptional, hour-long work by Het Houten Huis and Nordland Visual Theatre creates a ­surreal, colourful fantasia in order to evoke the psychological crisis of a man (played by the exceptional Martin Franke) who feels trapped in a life ­without direction.

The man’s small, square, hyper-real apartment turns through 360 degrees, every wall becomes a floor and a ceiling. He is, by turns, taunted and consoled by his identical alter-ego as his living space conspires to discombobulate him (not least when his goldfish swaps places with him and he seems to be making telephone calls to himself).

Franke creates this brilliant, sympathetic psychodrama with the assistance of two, very busy, co-performers, ­superbly evocative sound and music, and a set that is a thing of wonder.

As the room rotates, doors and hatches swing open, inanimate objects take on lives of their own, and, in one especially fabulous moment, a door becomes the ­exterior of a bath.

Although it is aimed, primarily, at ­children aged eight to 15, I… Er… Me is an outrageously technically ­accomplished, wonderfully performed theatrical treat for audiences of all ages.

Also from The Netherlands is ­BullyBully (ends today) by Maas ­Theater & Dance of Rotterdam. A ­hilarious piece for children aged three to seven, this is a show about the absurdities of ­one-upmanship and, ultimately, the need for respectful coexistence.

The National: Somewhere Else c_Jaka Varmu? (3).

Actors Sue-Ann Charmaine ­Susanna Bel and Henke Gryt Tuinstra play a ­couple of highly competitive, ­marvellously ­moustachioed kings. One has adopted green as their signature colour, the other pink.

Their little theatrical kingdoms are ­divided equally between the two ­colours, as they sit atop their ­pedestals, ­beneficently waving at the young ­audience as they arrive. That, however, is where the equality ends.

One king places upon the ­pedestal, what else but a bust of themself? The other follows, with an even bigger ­self-homage in sculpture.

Thos is the starting gun fired on a very funny, often slapstick, competition in which the daft monarchs try to outdo each other in all manner of activities, ranging from ribbon cutting to sword fighting. In one especially humorous ­moment, the not-so-dynamic duo seek to better one another in the area of flag display.

In scenes reminiscent of the ­competition between North and South Korea (which, famously, raised ever ­bigger, higher ­national flags on the edge of the ­demilitarised zone between the two countries), the kings ­disappear ­backstage, returning with a bigger ­honorary canvas than that last exhibited by their rival.

These two superb physical ­performers render this rapid-fire silliness with a Chaplinesque brilliance that has young theatregoers beside themselves with laughter.

Elsewhere in the festival, the ­Slovenian show Somewhere Else (run ended) by Ljubljana Puppet Theatre is a gorgeous and touching show about war and refuge for seven to 13-year-olds.

The National: Somewhere Else c_Jaka Varmu? (3).

The tale of a little girl from an ­unnamed country who is displaced to the titular “somewhere else” by conflict, it ­combines performance (by the tremendous Asja Kahrimanovic Babnik) with ­outstanding animation (think what seems like a chalk drawing of a dog ­coming suddenly to ­cartoonish life).

Played on and around an ingeniously engineered table, which revolves and locks at any required angle, this ­portrayal of a regular childhood horribly disrupted by war speaks, perhaps, to Slovenia’s ­history as part of the now-shattered ­former Yugoslavia.

There’s still time to catch the final two performances of Murmur (ends ­today), an impressive New Circus work by the Grensgeval company of ­Belgium. ­Performed by the amazing ­acrobat Camiel Corneille, the show brings ­together breathtaking athleticism with wireless sound technology. Expect ­humour, ­invention and sheer, visual ­spectacle.

Finally, there’s spectacle, too, in the Scottish show Too Close To The Sun ­(festival run ended). The work of ­Barrowland Ballet, this piece for seven to 13-year-old children uses the ancient myth of Icarus as a metaphor for the ­ecological crisis of the 21st century.

Fine performers Ilona Gumowska, ­Molly Danter and Charlotte McLean deliver their story by means of dance, physical performance and spoken word. They play between plastic waves (which wash up plastic detritus on the ­imaginary beach) and three, great revolving ­structures that look like they were ­designed as a cross between a climbing wall and a giant cheese grater.

Performed dynamically, and ­incorporating nicely a series of projected moving images, it is an affecting piece of eco-performance.

The Edinburgh International Children’s Festival ends today: