IN 2001, groundbreaking Flemish theatre company Victoria came to the Tramway in Glasgow with an extraordinary theatre work. Entitled üBUNG (which translates into English as "practice" or "exercise"), the piece combined the screening of a film (performed entirely by adult actors) with a live theatre performance in which children played out the roles of the adults on the screen.

Audiences and critics were astonished by the originality of the idea and the professionalism of the child actors. Perhaps more importantly, in the context of our society's deep concern (some would say panic) about childhood and parenting, there was amazement at the sensitive manner in which the production broached a number of difficult questions about adulthood and children's progress towards becoming adults.

Victoria have played at Tramway many times since then, most famously with the disturbing play Aalst, which they co-produced with the National Theatre of Scotland last year. However, üBUNG - which was originally planned as the first in a trilogy of shows designed for adult audiences but performed by children - remains one of the most memorable pieces the Ghent-based company has presented in Scotland.

Now, seven years on, the Belgians are returning to Tramway with That Night Follows Day, the second part of that trilogy. The production has been created by guest director Tim Etchells, artistic director of Sheffield-based avant-garde theatre company Forced Entertainment (creators of such shows as And On The Thousandth Night and Bloody Mess).

The new show - which is performed by 16 children aged between eight and 14 - focuses on the complex relations of care, education, play, responsibility, discipline and control that exist between adults and children. Crucially, the piece (which was devised by Etchells and the kids themselves) is performed from the children's point of view.

Victoria have what might be called a grown-up approach to working with kids. Etchells feels that the company prioritises the creation of a successful artwork over any notions of a children's art project being about moral improvement for the young actors involved.

"There wasn't an agenda about it being good for the children," he comments. "I think there's an assumption that doing an interesting art project is good for them, but it doesn't have the same kind of paternalistic approach that I think you'd probably find here in the UK."

This does not imply a free-for-all, however. "It's not an easy performance for them," says Etchells. "It's not kids doing whatever they feel like. They are working in an incredibly disciplined performance mode; they're performing as a chorus for whole chunks of it. You have to speak and take pauses at exactly the same time as 15 other people. They had to work really hard to get there."

Their efforts have culminated in a piece in which the children confront their adult audience with what Etchells terms "an enormous catalogue" of statements about the relationship between children and adults. Some, such as the titular "you tell us that night follows day", seem timeless and uncontroversial. Others will be more uncomfortable for some adults in the audience.

"There's a part of the piece where the kids name things which children somehow learn without anybody telling them," says the director. "They are the kind of things kids overhear. Things like, You tell us that foreigners are stupid that women are bad drivers that aunt so-and-so is an alcoholic that the neighbours should mind their own f***ing business'."

Aware of the potential for discomfort that this section of the piece could create among parents of the children who were performing in the show, Victoria wrote to every parent explaining why the potentially offending lines were considered important to the production. Etchells was pleased to find that the inclusion of the material had widespread parental approval, and that no objections were received.

This small episode is indicative, the director suggests, of a way of working which enables Victoria to generate trust with those, including parents and schools, with whom they work. By the time the current show ends its European tour (in Poland, late next month), the children will have performed in no fewer than 10 countries over a one-year period. "They are doing a lot of travelling," says Etchells. "All of that is done with careful dialogue with parents and schools."

Victoria's achievement in gaining the trust and respect of both the children and the adults who have responsibility for their well-being is all the more remarkable in the context of the company's other work. "At the time when we were developing That Night Follows Day, the other project Victoria were producing was Nightshade, in which they were working with striptease artists," Etchells remembers. "The company's line was, We're producing a piece with eight to 14-year-olds, and, at the same time, a project with professional strippers'. There are few organisations in Britain who could say that in public without being immediately hauled over the coals."

With üBUNG still a brilliant memory for those who witnessed it, Tramway audiences have reason to be thankful for the liberal Belgian attitudes which have enabled That Night Follows Day to be created. Expect a startling and original piece of theatre in which children shed light on the world which adults create for them.