Review: Three Men in a Boat at The Nuffield Theatre, Southampton

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How do you tell a story that takes in more than 20 characters and half the length of the river Thames with just four actors and a few props? If you’re the Original Theatre Company, then in a clever and very funny way.

Their new adaptation brings Jerome K Jerome’s late-Victorian story of the adventures of three ill-equipped men (J, George and Harris) and their dog to life as they attempt to row from Kingston to Oxford. With the skilful use of a variety of props and a very realistic working pub set, actors Tom Hackney, Paul Westwood and Alistair Whatley took us on this journey. We laughed a lot as we all travelled down the Thames.

Their timing and physical theatre was superb; a cross between dance and mime, some of the set pieces had me laughing helplessly. Who knew that watching a man mime towing a row boat could be so funny? The addition of pianist Nelly (Anna Westlake) was a masterstroke, as she provided a musical backdrop and the perfect silent foil during comedic moments. A real tonic – top hole, what!

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