STROLL past Lyric Square on your way to grab a sandwich or pick up some stamps this summer and you might notice something a little different.
A bouncy castle being used to explain the ups and downs of the economy and a scent factory where passers-by will try to recreate the whiff of their own identity are just two of the madcap shows making up Theatre in the Square.
From Tuesday (June 12) to July 5, between Tuesday and Thursday, midday to 3pm each week, the square will be taken over by five different theatre groups as part of the free festival.
First up next week are Les Enfants Terribles, with Anyone for Tea? - a unique twist on the Mad Hatter's Tea Party from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
Oliver Lansley, co-founder of the group, said performing outdoors, where the cast must compete for the audience's attention with car horns, blaring police sirens and the occasional curious pigeon, presented a unique challenge.
"Some people will sit down and watch the whole thing but others might only catch the last five minutes and you have to make it satisfying for them all, which isn't easy," he told the Chronicle. "We try to keep things constantly entertaining, with something happening all the time, in order to get people's attention and not lose it.
"Last year we even had a giant screen showing Wimbledon behind us, so we were competing with Andy Murray for people's attention. It encourages you to think outside the box and come up with new ways of bringing theatre to an audience."
Les Enfants Terribles' show last year was a mish-mash of different fairy tales, including Rumpelstiltskin, Little Red Riding Hood and the Snow Queen, with the square transformed into a winter wonderland.
This summer the group's plans are even more ambitious, including a tap dancing Alice, a ventriloquist Mad Hatter and a huge dining table packed with surprises.
"Being in such a large space really lends itself to thinking big. We want to reach everyone in the square and immerse them in an entirely new world in the middle of this urban environment.
"What was nice last year was how you'd get people popping out for a sandwich and finding themselves in the middle of a snowstorm or surrounded by these fantastical creatures.
"Most people are already familiar with Alice in Wonderland, which helps because you need something they can grasp very quickly. The Mad Hatter's Tea Party also seemed to fit in well with it being a jubilee summer, with everybody planning street parties. We wanted to make it an anarchic experience and to give the characters a dark edge, although it's suitable for people of all ages."
The full line-up at this year's Theatre in the Square is:
Olfactory (by Curious Directive), Tuesday, June 12 Thursday, June 28. A one-on-one experience exploring our relationship with smell, perfume and memory.
Anyone for Tea? (by Les Enfants Terribles), Tuesday, June 12 Thursday, June 14. A twisted take on the Mad Hatter's Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland
Set Fire to Everything!!! (by RashDash), Tuesday, June 19 Thursday, June 21. Live music, 'frantic physicality' and an enormous mess are all ticked off in this look at the to-do list.
Inflation (by Tangled Feet), Tuesday, June 26 Thursday, June 28. Forget the white board, Tangled Feet use a bouncy castle in an attempt to explain the roots of the recession.
Symphony (by Nabokov), Tuesday, July 3 Thursday, July 5. Live music and drama are combined in a series of short plays from some of the hottest writers around.