Entering ‘upstairs at the gatehouse’, adorned wall to wall with head shots of local wannabe actors and with a distinct smell of church, I was transported back to my acting days. Unfortunately, these consisted of small roles in badly attended town halls. At best, this play fostered a warm sense of community, at worst it was reminiscent of a cringe inducing school panto.

The play revolves around a century old feud between two families, both trying to achieve horticultural history by creating a perfectly black tulip. Our fighters are distant relatives Audrey (Jill Greenacre) and Adrian (Christopher Killik), bizarrely plagued by their dutch 18th century ancestors, Richard Lynson’s Carolus Hoofdorn and Bryony Tebbutts Cornelia Vanderpol. Through intracranial communication, they encourage various dirty tactics for their respective bloodline to win the prize.

Whilst the dutch accents are, er, questionable, the cast's ongoing battle with their apparitional family does provide some physical comedy, receiving some much needed giggles from the crowd. This includes an exaggerated rendition of the famous Elvis wiggle from Adrian as he tries to fend off the Cornelia Vanderpol living rent free in his head, and a fast paced, Fawlty Towers-esque tackle between all the cast members.

Unfortunately, the rest of the script doesn’t leave much to laugh about. Filled with unsuccessful one liners and outdated, and frankly offensive, insults (I am pretty sure we don’t say midgets anymore), it feels as though the script is written around landing these sub par gags. This hinders the flow of the narrative and character development, leaving us with a story which feels convoluted and confusing, filled with endless characters we don’t have any real connection to.

The endless subplots and references don’t help this feeling of bewilderment, meaty themes including genetic modification and eco terrorism arise, but they wilt before the audience get a chance to grapple with the point of their inclusion. The complicated family tree makes things even more impenetrable, by the end it seems that everyone is in some way related to each other, which is concerning considering some toe curling seduction scenes throughout the play.

Despite all this, the theater, set and cast did leave a warm feeling in my heart. The modest set was adorned with real petunias, tulips and plants, and accurately transported me to a greenhouse, adding to the peculiar atmosphere of ‘Upstairs at the Gatehouse’. Enthusiasm was palpable from the cast, who continued to deliver each gag with confidence, amazingly unphased by the blank faces of the audience.

If an amusingly misjudged, but enthusiastic performance in one of London’s most unusual theaters takes your fancy then this could provide a wholesome and bizarre end to a wintery Sunday. However if it is a credible exploration of botanicals you are after, Kew Gardens would be a better bet.