Preview: Mulgrave, Mulgrave Woods, Sandsend

If you go down to the woods...
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The Independent Culture

If getting to the theatre after work is a rush, then you might think that getting a train to Scarborough for a site-specific theatre project in Mulgrave Woods, north Yorkshire, is out of the question. But Wilson + Wilson, the duo behind the project, will take an audience of 40 people each night on a four-mile trip through the woods near Mulgrave Castle and the estate belonging to the Marquis of Normanby. The audience will be led, mostly on foot, on a journey that lasts two hours and 40 minutes, as a live performanceunfolds around them.

If getting to the theatre after work is a rush, then you might think that getting a train to Scarborough for a site-specific theatre project in Mulgrave Woods, north Yorkshire, is out of the question. But Wilson + Wilson, the duo behind the project, will take an audience of 40 people each night on a four-mile trip through the woods near Mulgrave Castle and the estate belonging to the Marquis of Normanby. The audience will be led, mostly on foot, on a journey that lasts two hours and 40 minutes, as a live performanceunfolds around them.

Wils Wilson and Louise Ann Wilson founded their partnership in 1997 to create art, installation and theatre work inspired by and performed in unexpected locations. They first came across Mulgrave Woods during a road trip through Yorkshire about 18 months ago. "We were actually looking to build tree houses that looked out over the sea for our next project," says Wilson. "Most of the trees were two foot high and bent over by North Sea winds. We were beginning to despair. Then we came across Mulgrave Woods and stopped."

Wilson and Wilson discovered that the woods and castle had many interesting stories attached to them. The Phipps family - who still own the estate - commissioned Humphrey Repton to landscape the grounds, and played host to the botanist Sir Joseph Banks and his protégé, the Polynesian "noble savage" Omai in the 18th century. The Maharaja Duleep Singh, the last king of the Sikhs, also used the castle as his shooting lodge in the 19th century.

"This led us to explore the theme of wilderness vs civilisation, playing out scenes involving the real-life visitors to Mulgrave Woods and Mulgrave Castle, alongside a fictional myth-like story of a feral child in the woods." The professional cast will be joined by a chorus of local people who will play hunters, Victorian picnickers and a choir.

Mulgrave Woods, Sandsend, near Whitby, North Yorkshire (01947 602 124), 11 June to 3 July

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