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Outdoor Theatre: Old Herbaceous

Kick In The Head

Proudly Presents

Old Herbaceous

Dubbed by The Guardian ‘Downtown Abby but with gardening tips’ Old Herbaceous is a multi-award winning play, starring Giles Shenton.

It’s a simple story: old Herbert Pinnegar has spent his life as a gardener at ‘the big house’ shares his memories with us.  His interest in flowers and plants was aroused with the help and encouragement of the village schoolmistress.  He won first prize in the village fair’s wild flower competition, and when “My Lady” presented him with the prize and whispered to him that he won because he had carefully cut the flowers, not simply yanked them out of the ground as others had: thus began his lifelong devotion to plants, and to her.  All the village boys were destined to work on the land, but Herbert refused: fortunately he was taken on as an apprentice by Captain and Mrs. Charteris at the Big House. We hear of Herbert’s first day at work and his gradual rise up the ranks within the garden until eventually he becomes head gardener, addressed as “Mr Pinnegar”.

Catch this award winning gentle tale at The Garden House

Catch this award winning gentle tale at The Garden House

A few useful gardening tips are slipped in among his stories.  He learned a valuable lesson about the fickleness of women at an early age, and we gradually realise his mute adoration of ‘my lady’, who values his worth as a gardener, appreciates the things he does for her and his refusal to be seduced away from ‘his’ garden by the lure of higher wages elsewhere, but almost certainly sees him as ‘just a gardener’.  Mrs Charteris’ health gradually declines, the estate has to be sold, but he is not thrown out of his tied cottage, as might be expected: the new owners have agreed to let Herbert stay in his cottage as long as he needs it.  We leave Herbert sitting with his memories as the light slowly fades…

This is a simple, low-key, elegiac piece, yearning for a long-lost way of life: Giles Shenton draws us into his world from his first entrance.  The set is a pretty greenhouse: Herbert potters about among the plants, pots and other paraphernalia, washing flower pots, potting on plants, drinking from his flask of tea, and chatting as he does so, and we are held entranced from start to finish.  The piece doesn’t have bells, whistles, or fireworks, but it is a nostalgic, quietly satisfying evening spent with someone who creates an instant rapport with the audience, drawing us into his world and making the characters in it so real we feel you have known them forever. 

Visitors are encouraged to bring picnic blankets, chairs and can bring their own food and drink. They are also advised to wear weather appropriate clothing. The theatre will go ahead unless the weather is extreme.

Not to be missed!

Essential Info

Tickets - £15 non members, £12 friends of The Garden House 
- First 20 members receive VIP option of front row location for seats and a free glass of Prosecco 
Timing: performance starts at 7pm and ends by 8.45pm with 20 mins interval - light refreshments & drinks offered pre performance and during interval
- Please bring your own low back seats
- Performance goes ahead in all weathers
- Free on site parking
- Tickets to be purchased online in advance via our website