Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog)
Also see Susan's review of Smokey Joe's Café - The Songs of Leiber and Stoller
Audiences familiar with Synetic Theater in Arlington, Virginia, might wonder how the company, driven as it is by expressive physicality, would take on Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog), adapted from Jerome K. Jerome's witty novella from 1889. Never fear: director and adapter Derek Goldman and his four actors ably integrate the dry, literate humor of the original with entertaining stage business.
Jerome originally intended his work as a straightforward chronicle of a boat trip down the Thames River, but the narrator's digressions and the interplay among the characters make the trip much more interesting than the stops. The travelers are the narrator, Jerome (Tom Story); his friends George (Tim Getman) and Harris (Rob Jansen); and his fox terrier Montmorency, played captivatingly by Synetic regular Alex Mills.
The three young men decide they are suffering from "overwork" (although Jerome notes that George "goes to sleep at a bank from 10 to 4 each day") and charter a boat for a two-week vacation trip. The humor comes from situationsattempting to put up a roof over the boat to create a sleeping area or dealing with food issuesand from character, as when Harris insists on playing the banjo and singing a comic song, or when Jerome wonders if the cheap trinkets of his own time will become the cherished heirlooms of future generations. Montmorency is the observer, snuggling with the men as they sleep and "helping" them, but occasionally getting into his own adventures.
Goldman takes care of the more naturalistic scenes, while choreographer Irina Tsikurishvili stretches the limits with exaggerated, yet still in character, poses and interaction among the actors. Mills obviously gets the most opportunities to show off, but the othersespecially Storywrestle with recalcitrant set pieces, both real and imaginary, and deal with the actual water that runs around Lisi Stoessel's set. Other assets are Ivania Stack's amusing, character-defining costumes, Brittany Diliberto's lighting design, and Shane O'Loughlin's scene-setting projections.