If You Go Down to the Woods Today…
You’re sure of a big surprise.. or a rather odd experience! I roped my friend Emily into coming along with me to Trebah Gardens who were hosting ‘If you go down to the woods today’. The event was described online as “a spectacular voyage of breathtaking vertical dance and Ariel performance through the garden“ and it sounded different and right up our street.
We arrived and parked up in the large car park. Trebah Gardens is located above the Helford River and Glendurgan Garden both of which I have been to and you can read about by clicking on the links. The gardens boast over four miles of footpath filled with exotic flowers, champion tress and a hydrangea valley. Trebah is open everyday of the year from 10am and costs £4.95 to enter.
We arrived quite early and so wandered around admiring the various gifts and gardening equipment in the gift shop before taking a seat in the cafe to wait for the performance to start.
Gather Round and Beware!
We were soon all gathered into the foyer area and a female actor welcomed us to the show describing how we would be going into the woods and that we needed to be careful as they were full of magic and mystery. There were also two male actors who were going around the audience making people jump and telling them to beware. There were quite few children around and a real mix of people. All I kept thinking was please don’t pick on me!
The actors led us down into the gardens where we came across some aerial dancers who performed on hoops up in the trees. It was pretty cool to see how there were men all harnessed up climbing ladders against tress which were linked by ropes to the aerialists. As the men climbed up and down the ladders it made the performers go up in the air on their hoops – the timings were great and it was quite a cool sight to see how it all. Emily and I had already seen something similar when we saw ‘Flown’ at the Minack Theatre and so maybe weren’t as amazed as people who hadn’t seen this done before.
Opera and Tightropes
We then moved on through the gardens following the actors- Emily and I weren’t quite sure what the story was all about but I don’t think we were the only ones who were a little unsure what was going on! We then encountered a lady in a long blue dress singing opera to a string duo and some people tight roping really high up in the trees. As the sun was setting it got darker and darker as we walked through the trees. We were led down to a lake area where the opera singing lady was in a boat out on the water. She along with a group of swaying singers sung melancholy tunes as the aerialists returned with their hoops to do a synchronised (or not so synchronised) performance.
Fire Breathing Finale
Finally we were ushered to the finale of the show (or whatever this event was!). We were greeted by a huge metal robotic fire breathing dragon. There was loud music and fire cannons shooting out flames. The small of gas was intense and it was pretty warm! We watched as the robotic dragon danced and fire breathed in time with the music. When it finished the singers, actors and aerial performers took a bow signalling the end of the event.
I’ll admit I was left feeling somewhat confused and Emily and I commented on how we weren’t sure how any of the parts linked together and what the gist of the story had been – we were none the wiser really despite discussing each section and looking for a theme. The end of the event had taken us down to the end of the gardens and onto the shingle beach. There was just about enough light from the fire breathing dragon to see out to sea a small way. I think I would have liked to have gone to the earlier 6pm performance so we could have taken advantage of the beach and sea views – if only we’d known!
Reflections on Randomness
Emily and I swiftly made out way back up through the gardens which was quite a steep and dark climb – the touches provided were appreciated. We made it back to the car park before the crowds and left feeling somewhat confused at what we had just seen!
Whilst I’m all for new experiences and outdoor drama this just felt a little too ‘out there’ for me and Emily agreed. I don’t know if it was because we have both seen aerial performers before (which were more impressive by far) or the fact there didn’t seem to be a strong or logical story to the event but we left feeling a little bit disappointed considering the entry price. I couldn’t help but think how I would have rather paid the entrance fee to visit Trebah Gardens and see the flowers and beach instead.
Ever been to Trebah Gardens? Did you and see If you go down to the woods today? If you did, let me know what you thought and if you understood it!