There's something in the air in Stratford


The nights are long, the weather's miserable and you're starting to feel sure that the sun has, finally, after 4.57 billion years, decided it is done with shining.

Then you hear of an artwork of such rampant midsummer madness that you cannot help but slough off the miserable autumn mood. Such is the new installation, The Waft That Woos, which opens today at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, the pair behind the piece, are the mad scientists of the art world. Past credits include a Willy Wonka-style Artisanal Chewing Gum Factory, a crazy golf course constructed from cake and monumental food art using jelly.

Their new project is themed around The Merry Wives of Windsor, which is staged by the RSC later this month. The intrepid visitor wanders around a mirrored maze made navigable by a scent that gets stronger as they approach the centre. As Bompas explains, the maze is meant to reflect the "confusion and frustration" of Shakespearean comedy itself, but it is also a bit of aromatic fun: "We've become fascinated with smell. Increasingly people understand the world visually and disregard how emotionally powerful other senses can be." But be warned, the scent, which is generated by a sci-fi sounding "ultrasonic oscillator" before being wafted round the installation, has been impregnated with aphrodisiacs.

'Bompas & Parr: The Waft That Woos', PACCAR Room, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, today until 7 April 2013 (