THERE is a traditional English nursery rhyme Mary, Mary quite contrary.

The opening verse goes: "Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells, And pretty maids all in a row..."

This is question we face in Humble Boy as presented with Ilminster Entertainments Society at the Warehouse Theatre in Ilminster.

The play is set in a garden but we need to discover if it is a garden of remembrance, a garden of hope or a garden of both paradise lost or paradise regained.

We soon discover what type of garden it is and what message it contains for what turns out to be two dysfunctional families.

The story is a microcosm of family life in 1997, a family at war with itself all adds to the emotional barriers thrown up.

The play starts on the day of a funeral when Flora Humble(Val Wright) mourns in her way the death of her husband. No widows weeds for her, rather Jean Muir, than tiresome black.

And her son Felix (Chris Williamson) , the stuttering academic who while kind hearted is an introvert-a party of one.

We find out more about Flora's new beau, George (John McGrouther) his daughter, Rosie (Kayleigh Partt) who is Felix's ex and Mercy (Jo Neagle) next door neighbour and Flora's friend.

Each scene is a battle of inner and outer tension, where each character searches for what some in the play say is 'the right word'.

What the audience is served up is a 'bitter sweet symphony of emotions'. Each character is on a road to discovery but what they find you will have to discover for yourself.

Director, Lyn Lockyer is to be applauded for teasing and cajoling out impressive performances from each cast member in what is a play which shifts from acerbic wit to the pit of despair.

The best clue I can give you about the play is if karma made honey. Humble Boy is at the Warehouse Theatre until May 25.

Tickets cost £10 adult and £5 student.

Buy online at or from Harrimans Menswear, Silver Street, Ilminster.