CRAZY, unprecedented but stunning.

Here’s a first look at the Mercury Theatre’s temporary venue - a huge tent which has been put up on Abbey Field in Colchester while work is underway on the £9 million revamp of the permanent theatre at Balkerne Gate.

It’s still early days with more work to do but the circus-style tent is already impressive.

Executive director Steve Mannix said the 850-seat tent is his craziest idea yet. He said: “In my 35 years of working in theatre I’ve done some crazy things but installing an 850 seat tent on a field has to be up there at the top of the list.

“In just two weeks our fantastic staff and suppliers have created an amazing, magical venue for our artists and audiences to enjoy.”

The first reaction from audiences was positive.

Creative director Ryan McBryde said: “The surrounding trees are up-lit in purple and wreathed with festoon, giving it a magical wonderland quality. The bar area is ginormous and has a fun, festival vibe to it.”

It took 15 staff about a week to put together the infrastructure.

Technical manager Ben Wills added: “It took five articulated lorries and two big vans to get it all there and set up. We’ve run in miles and miles of cable, moved tonnes of fencing, staging and scenery, as well as rigging around 150 lights in this time.”

“Throughout the process the crew have been fantastic.”

The venue opens with Oliver! on September 27.