29-30 October 2014
Reviewed by Cathy Porteus
Originally a book by Jerome K Jerome, the story transfers well to a theatre production. Imagine three public school idiots out on a boat on the Thames, well you don’t need to imagine you can come and see the production of “Three Men in a Boat” and laugh as they regale you with their tale of the highs and lows of life as they rough it on the river.
The three men, Narrator J, George and Harris decide to improve their health by setting sail along the River Thames, camping out, staying in inns and enjoying what nature has to offer. Together with their devilishly good looking terrier called Monty, cue comic plastic dog on set, they demonstrate everyday things can be humorous. Just catching a train from the right platform becomes a comic caper. Getting the kettle to boil – don’t watch it!
Harris does a fantastic job of impersonating the housekeeper, a Scottish inn keeper, and what can only be described as a “glamorous magical assistant!” The costume department played a blinder there!
George is not left out as he takes on the interpretation of a vicious cat, cue poor scared plastic Monty, as well as leading the comic songs, “Two lovely black eyes” to name but one.
The fourth member of the cast is Nelly, who doesn’t actually speak at all during the production but does add elements of humour through her skilful piano accompaniment. She also sprays water at the cast to the amusement of the audience, well who can’t help laughing when water is being sprayed!
During the second half, the action takes a dark turn as the threesome come across a drowned woman’s body floating in the river, cue dramatic lighting and a slow song by George. This sombre moment did jar rather against the otherwise comedic theme.
The theatre stage is used well throughout the production. An A-frame and table are aptly converted to represent the boat for example, whilst ping-pong balls were used to represent hail stones. All very believable.
Keeping the humour up to date they include reference to the Scottish independent vote for freedom and the laziness of UK bankers, but the best laughter came from the bumbling nature of these threesome’s adventures, trying to open a tin of pineapple without a tin opener! They also amuse when recreating the famous titanic scene of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio flying at the front on the boat.
These three young men are basically pampered Victorians, who have a romantic yearning for the great outdoors, and they entertained the whole audience, whatever their age.
Tickets cost £19.50.
Three Men in a Boat is at the Oldham Coliseum until the 30 October 2014. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0161 624 2829.
Oldham Coliseum Theatre, Fairbottom Street, Oldham, OL1 3SW | 0161 624 2829