In October 2021, Tinderbox premiered Jonathan M. Daley’s thrilling new play Sylvan in woodland locations in Belfast and Coleraine as part of our ‘Off the Grid’ Season.

Sylvan is a nightmarish immersive experience bringing together live performance, horror and sound design in site-specific spaces. A visual feast of Theatre of the Grotesque, Sylvan featured a stellar local cast: Ruby Campbell, Maria Connolly and Seamus O’Hara.

Sylvan was directed by Tinderbox Artistic Director Patrick J O’ Reilly and produced by Tinderbox Producer Meg Magill.


Paul and Deirdre are trying to adopt a child. In their world, adoption is shameful and embarrassing, and discretion is key. When Rosie, the adoption agent, arrives for a home visit, Paul and Deirdre struggle to impress her; casting doubts over their chances of getting a child. But Rosie’s visit threatens a much larger secret; something Paul and Deirdre have hidden their entire relationship – the illegal forest in their spare room on the top floor. Rosie becomes entranced by the forest, and she offers to speed up the adoption process in return for access to the forest, one day a week. However, Rosie is also holding a secret close to her heart and her weekly visits to the forest lead to the emergence of a sinister presence that begins to create havoc in all of their lives. Sylvan is a delicious nightmare for the senses.

Age Guidance: 16+

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Audience comments

“The first time we glimpsed the forest ‘alight’ was simply breathtaking, especially set against the time shifting & quite tormenting soundscape.”

Audience Member

“Such great writing that delivered some beautiful and heart-wrenching lines on: love; life; loss; relationships & our fragile planet. All on the threshold of COP26 too!”

Audience Member

“The show will resonate and echoe far beyond the trees, the horror is comforting and the rain…I will never experience the rain in the same way again.”

Audience Member

“Fabulous to be in such a different setting, the performers were excellent, especially the physicality of their performance. Wonderful imagination of the writer to conceive that world and situation. Very well organised, we felt in safe hands. I love that the environment is being championed in this way, keep it up!”

Audience Member

“Beautifully atmospheric and haunting with a wonderful immersive soundscape and landscape. I loved sitting in the woodland watching the story unfold. Beautiful performances and physicality. Site specific theatre like I have never experienced before.”

Audience Member

“How lucky was I to be in the audience this evening! Fabulous script, fantastic acting and phenomenal direction, not to mention the most spectacular lighting design and set. A wonderful off the grid performance that sets standards for sustainable theatre of the future.”

Audience Member