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One-man gardening drama flowers in Diss

PUBLISHED: 10:07 03 June 2019

Giles Shenton as head gardener Herbert Pinnegar in charming one-man play Old Herbaceous which is coming to Diss Corn Hall. Picture: Kick in the Head

Giles Shenton as head gardener Herbert Pinnegar in charming one-man play Old Herbaceous which is coming to Diss Corn Hall. Picture: Kick in the Head

Archant

Described as "Downton Abbey with gardening tips", charming one-man play Old Herbaceous, which has been highly acclaimed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and is due to be recorded for the BBC, is coming to Diss.

Giles Shenton as head gardener Herbert Pinnegar in charming one-man play Old Herbaceous which is coming to Diss Corn Hall. Picture: Kick in the HeadGiles Shenton as head gardener Herbert Pinnegar in charming one-man play Old Herbaceous which is coming to Diss Corn Hall. Picture: Kick in the Head

An acute and sometimes hilarious observation of relationships between the classes in a simpler age, sprinkled with witticisms and epithets, it is the humorous love story of a single-minded yet gentle man with a passion for plants.

Renowned actor Giles Shenton inhabits the role of the head gardener Herbert Pinnegar in the charming play which has played to audiences all around the country over the last two years and comes to Diss Corn Hall on June 7.

Mr Shenton said: "There is no greater challenge for an actor than a full length one-man play. There is nowhere to hide and no-one to help. If you fail to engage the audience right from the start, you've failed completely."

The play was written by Alfred Shaughnessy, script editor and chief writer on Upstairs, Downstairs, more than 30 years ago.

Mr Shenton has previously performed the play at the Royal Horticultural Society Arts Festival, Edinburgh Fringe and across the country.

The play is based on a novel by Reginald Arkell written in 1950. The title character Herbert Pinnegar is very much of the P G Wodehouse model; larger than life and unforgettable.

Bert Pinnegar, an awkward orphan child with one leg a tad longer than the other, rises from inauspicious schoolboy days spent picking wildflowers and dodging angry farmers to become the legendary head gardener Old Herbaceous, the most esteemed flower-show judge in the county and a famed horticultural wizard capable of producing dazzling April strawberries from the greenhouse.

Pottering amongst the seeds and cuttings at the back of his ramshackle greenhouse in the garden of a Gloucestershire manor house Pinnegar remembers his friendship with the lady of the house, Mrs Charteris.

The play is sprinkled with nuggets of gardening wisdom.

- Old Herbaceous will be performed at Diss Corn Hall on June 7, 7.30pm, £12 (£10 cons), 01379 652241, disscornhall.co.uk

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