site search by freefind advanced

 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Three Men in a Boat

Watermill, 6th to 10th April 2004 and on tour.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

What a lark

Three Men in a Boat, at The Watermill, from Tuesday, April 6 to Saturday, April 10

There could be no better place to listen to Rodney Bewes' adaptation of Jerome K Jerome's well-loved tale of a watery journey than the Watermill with its fast-flowing millstream supplying appropriate noises off.

Those who think of Mr Bewes only as the staider Likely Lad may have wondered whether he would fit the bill as one of the quintessentially English trio who decide to get the benefit of fresh air by sculling along the Thames.

Any doubts were dismissed as soon as he bounced on to the stage. Within a few moments the audience were laughing as with a laconic "Battersea!" he introduced Montmorency, the four-wheeled dog, explaining that fresh air would indeed be beneficial for a hypochondriac who had discovered from a medical text book that he suffered from every disease and condition except housemaid's knee.

That laughter never stopped for this was the entertaining preamble to the anecdotes of life on the river with George, Harris and, of course, Montmorency, and we journeyed with the trio through locks, along peaceful stretches of the river, pausing here and there to explore - invariably with disastrous and hilarious consequences.

These included Harris' misadventure when, sure he has the key to solving Hampton Court's maze, he finds himself completely lost with 30/40 people in tow.

None were impressed at Harris' suggestion that they should go back to the beginning and start again.

Molesey Lock, Runnymede, Monkey Island, the river 'hushed, placid and lonely' near Sonning, the names floated past, each with its own adventure for the three slightly pompous, impeccably dressed, naive but determined Englishmen. They had laid in copious supplies of food only to discover that the mustard to go with their cold beef has been forgotten. Such a major tragedy cast a gloom over the boat.

Sometimes a favourite book is so precious that a stage version is a disappointment. This was not the case here. Rodney Bewes, the Likely Lad grown up, has toured the country from Inverness to Sark with this adaptation, his talent for communicating with an audience making people laugh all the way Surely there is nowhere it could have been appreciated more than here in the Thames Valley itself.

This was a gentle delightful evening.