There's no river but boating tale has depth to it
IF you are looking for a good laugh, then travel no further than Derby Theatre this week.
Three Men in a Boat, performed by The Original Theatre Company, is a riot from start to finish.
The three main characters, acting out Jerome K Jerome's famous tale, throw themselves headlong into the story much to the appreciation of the city audience.
It is a classic story of boating misadventure that has become a quintessential example of the charm and wit of Victorian England.
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Attempting to escape the stresses of city life, three friends – accompanied by their faithful canine companion – decide to take to the river in order to relax and rejuvenate. The holiday, however, quickly unravels and descends into chaos.
Craig Gilbert's adaptation of the original book manages to weave in a fair sprinkling of music, including the addition of Nelly, played by Sue Appleby.
The eponymous characters – J played by Alastair Whatley, Tom Hackney as Harris and Christopher Brandon as George – are naturally limited by their stage environment and no River Thames in sight.
But good improvisation allows the audience to feel it is really on the boat journey from Kingston to Oxford.
Dozens of characters are played superbly by the three cast members as they don hats and use chairs and walking canes to denote all manner of things, including the boat and swans.
There are many truly slapstick moments, such as when Harris throws himself around the stage, but there are times of comic poignancy and pathos that are more subtle but as easily accessed.
Occasionally, the piece has touches of Monty Python or Little Britain humour about it but, in the final outcome, it is very much its own product – a rare summation of humour, observation and a jolly good night out.
WHAT: Three Men in a Boat
WHERE: Derby Theatre
WHEN: Tonight, 7.30pm and tomorrow, 2.30pm and 7.30pm.
TICKETS: Call 01332 593939 or visit www.derbytheatre.co.uk