old herbaceous The Spring, Havant Saturday, March 24 thespring.co.uk

Kings Youth Theatre in rehearsal for Loserville at The Kings, Southsea, from July 21-24. Imogen Thomas, centre. Picture by Anne Dobeson

Kings Youth Theatre asks: Who are you calling a loser? 

Described as 'Downton Abbey with gardening tips', Old Herbaceous is the humorous love story of a single-minded yet gentle man with a passion for plants.

With highly acclaimed performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Royal Horticultural Society Arts Festival, a recording of the one-man-show is now planned for BBC Radio 4 later this year.

As Old Herbaceous, Giles Shenton truly lives the part of the legendary Head Gardener, Herbert Pinnegar, inviting you to feel included in a private chat from a bygone, comforting age.

He first read the script in his 20s but has had to wait 30 years until being old enough to perform the part.

'There is no greater challenge for an actor,' he says '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.'

He needn’t have worried, reviews of his 'superb' performances have described him as 'completely captivating' and 'entrancing', with him holding “the audience’s attentions and imaginations throughout”. 

The show is produced by Hampshire based theatre company, Kick In The Head. Selborne resident Simon Downing, director and co-producer explains how nice it is to be at a local venue.

'We are currently in the middle of a national tour with over 50 dates booked and more still coming in. I shall take great pleasure in being able to go home after this performance, instead of spending another night in a hotel or bed and breakfast.' 

Simon, who as an actor used to star in national tours for Bill Kenwright, adds: 'I do love touring, but having just celebrated my 60th birthday, I don’t quite have the energy or the knees for it anymore!”

Written by Alfred Shaughnessy, script editor and chief writer on Upstairs, Downstairs, Old Herbaceous is an acute and sometimes hilarious observation of relationships between the classes in a simpler age and is sprinkled with witticisms and epithets: 'You can’t be angry for long…not in a garden', 'A garden is like life itself…full of good and evil'.

The evening blossoms into tender humour as it unexpectedly twists into a quiet love story of sorts, much in the traditionally understated English style of the early 20th century.

The Spring, Havant

Saturday, March 24

thespring.co.uk

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