How To Build A Better Tulip by Mark R Giesser. Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate Village, London N6 to 20 November 2022. 2**. William Russell.

Set in the horticultural department of a Lincolnshire university this well performed but tepid tiptoe through the tulips of a farce involves ghosts, the search for that elusive goal – a black tulip – eco terrorism and heredity. At times one has no idea of what is going on in spite of the strenuous efforts of the cast. Author Giesser has only himself to blame as he also directs. Audrey (Jill Greenacre), arrives to carry out research into a new strain of maize to find she has to share her greenhouse laboratory with Adrian ( Christopher Killik) who is conducting totally different research, Battle duly commences. Then two ancient Dutch ghosts one might say, or figments of their respective imagination appear, Carolus Hoofdom (Richard Lynson) and Cornelia Vanderol (Bryony Tebbutt) who both carried out research into how to produce a black tulip when the flowers were first introduced in Holland in the 17th century. The story is told in Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Black Tulip. The hero manages to produce one but nobody else ever did and these spectres or whatever they are plan to make their descendants – Audrey and Adrian – do the job for them. Sadly, while the audience the night i saw it did its best to will the thing to work, it proved a pretty dreadful evening, one for someone with nothing better to do.

Audrey Braddock: Jill Greenacre.

Sheila Crouch: Bryony Tebbutt.

Carolus Hoodorn: Richard Lynson.

Perci Braddock: Beth Burrows.

Adrian Vanderpol. Christopher Killik.

Cornelia Vanderpol: Bryony Tebbutt.

Sergeant Ellsworth: Richard Lynson.

Director: Mark Giesser.

Set Designer: Mollie Cheek.

Costume Designer: Giulia Scrimieri.

Lighting Designer: Sam M Owen.

Production Photographs: Flavia Fraser Canon

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