FOLLOW the carrots, comes the advice from the gentleman in the Castle Howard ticket office.

Those carrot signs lead you to a rose garden within a walled garden design, where the roses are yet to bloom but the spring day has the warmth of summer.

Writer-director Alexander Wright's cast are clad by costume designer Tabitha Grove in summer-bright, psychedelic trousers –maybe tie-dye? – and white shirts. All except the last to enter, Isabella Hayward's bustling Beatrix Potter, who will narrate a children's play that combines her own story at Hill Top, Sawrey, with three of her stories published by Frederick Warne & Co.

Wright's actor-musician company for Easingwold's Gobbledigook Theatre have to combine storytelling skills with songs and interaction with children and adults alike, not to mention sonnets, one delivered most exquisitely by Zimbabwean-born actor and multi-instrumentalist Humphrey Sitima. Unless you encountered him in Wright's Neverland for the Guild of Misrule in Sheffield, this will be the first time you have seen Sitima on Yorkshire soil and he has huge presence and such joie de vivre about him. Let's hope he returns.

York Press:

Isabella Hayward as Beatrix Potter in the gardens of Castle Howard. Picture: Charlotte Graham 

Fellow Neverland cast member Tom Figgins and York actress Anna Soden, last seen up here as John in Gobbeldigook's Robin Hood at Bolton Abbey last summer, complete a company full of energy and multi-skilling enterprise as they tell the stories of The Tale Of Pie And The Patty Pan, The Tale Of Samuel Whiskers and The Tale Of Ginger And Pickles, while weaving Potter favourites Peter Rabbit and Tabitha Twitchett into the play.

We learn too of Beatrix's passionate belief in conservation and the nascent National Trust, the wonder of the Lake District and the joy of writing imaginative stories: details of more interest to the accompanying adults in the audience than the young children.

One surprise is how the characterisation of Potter's animal characters stays in largely human form, no rat tails or cat-like movements, for example. We remain more aware of the actors than who they are playing, and that is not ideal for children trying to follow a story.

Even with such a gifted playwright as Alexander Wright, who so often makes words dance, this time the stories stay earth-bound and the theatrical magic hovers tantalisingly out of reach. Save for the songs, however, which are an utter delight, being witty, playful, ever so tuneful and engaging for all ages.

The Tales Of Beatrix Potter, Gobbledigook Theatre, Castle Howard Walled Garden, until June 3, at 11am, 2pm and 5pm daily. Box office: 01653 648621 or at