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Samantha Parker reviews Old Herbaceous at Keswick's Theatre by the Lake

Peter Macqueen as Old Herbaceous Photo: Keith Pattison

'Just a gardener' as he is described in the final words of the play? What does Herbert Pinnegar have to offer theatre goers at Theatre by The Lake? Well, probably a lot more than they had bargained for.

Not just for gardeners, this is an endearing story set in an old green house in the gardens of a Gloucestershire manor house where you imagine perfect lawns and well tended borders.

It centres on the enduring relationship between manservant and Lady Charteris of the Manor House, an unexpected love story.

The audience are drawn into Pinnegars world as he delivers the kind of anecdotes you'd expect from a character well into his old age. He recalls his life from boy to man with humour, self depreciation and love of his mistress.

Peter Macqueen as Old Herbaceous Credit: Keith Pattison

The high points in his life both occur at the county's horticultural show - though the are years apart. You can't help but be drawn into his simple but idealistic world.

Peter Macqueen brings to life Alfred Shaughnessy’s moving one-man play in the intimate confines of the Studio theatre.

The Gloucestershire accent slipped from time to time and was irritating a first but once in Pinnegar's distant world it is forgotten.

Pinnegar, known as Old Herbaceous in the village, could teach modern day Britain a thing are two. His respect for his employer and his loyalty to her is admirable and rarely seen these days. Is it misplaced? No, because Pinnegar is happy, isn't that we all really want from life? Maybe there's something to be said for the simple life.

Peter Macqueen as Old Herbaceous Credit: Keith Pattison

Directed by Stefan Escreet the set is simple but busy.

As Pinnegar tells his stories his hands are always working, potting plants, eating oranges (gardening tip included) and drinking tea but it doesn't distract from what he says - in fact it makes it more real, it makes the audience part of his world.

I challenge you not to be moved by this enchanting story of 'just a gardener', I'd take some tissues too.

8.5/10

Peter Macqueen as Old Herbaceous Credit: Keith Pattison

Old Herbaceous is produced and performed by Peter Macqueen, directed by Stefan Escreet and designed by Martin Johns.

The show runs from now until Saturday 23rd March.

Tickets cost between £10 and £21 and can be purchased from the Theatre By The Lake website.