Review: Three Men In A Boat

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Messing about on the river with the Original Theatre Company was eccentric, musical, fun and funny.

It should have been as its source material Three Men In a Boat by Jerome K Jerome is every bit as funny today as it was when it was written more than a century ago.

Sticking faithfully to the book, the production charts the mishaps and mayhem which beset J, Harris, George and their fox terrier Montmorency as they row along the Thames, from Kingston to Reading, on a two-week holiday.

The introduction of a piano player and the device of having the story related in the way of a talk delivered to an organisation works well in a adaptation every bit as eccentric as the story.

It is peppered with sing-along music hall songs and modern cultural references – the best of these are a swipe at bankers and a swan attack told with the help of walking canes and the theme tune to Jaws. The cast positively encourage the audience to join in with Two Lovely Black Eyes. There is also a poignant song which underscores the finding of a suicide in the river.

The three actors multi-task so as well as playing the three friends they also take the roles of some of the more eccentric characters they meet on their journey. These include three anglers who claim to have caught a huge fish displayed in a pub and a spooky church warden. Lovers of the book will not be disappointed with the adaptation – it keeps all the funny bits and eschews some of the more self-indulgent lyrical passages which in this version are a running joke.

Original Theatre Company presents an affectionate, eccentric and fun adaptation of one of the best-loved comedy novels ever written. It is on at the McCarthy Studio, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on Wednesday November 21 at 7.45pm and tomorrow 1.45pm and 7.45pm