The Mill at Sonning
6th June to 13th July 2024

“Jerome K. Jerome’s classic Victorian memoir, Three Men In A Boat has been gloriously adapted by celebrated star of stage and screen, Clive Francis (The Crown, A Clockwork Orange, Entertaining Mr. Sloane) preserving the timeless humour and infusing it with a fresh and vibrant touch for contemporary audiences.

This warm and witty play invites you on an uproarious journey down the meandering waters of the Thames with the delightful trio of friends Harris, George, and Jerome, as they set sail on an unforgettable adventure through the English countryside, each twist and turn bringing a fresh dose of laughter and unexpected encounters. So, pack your bags, grab your oars, and prepare to be swept away by the camaraderie, and mischievous antics of this unforgettable trio, as they navigate not just the river’s currents but the comical currents of life itself.

When in 1889 Jerome K Jerome took his fictionalised friends up the Thames in a rowing boat – describing Sonning as being “the most fairy-like little nook on the whole river…more like a stage village than one built of bricks and mortar” – his book was an instant success. Within a year river boating licences had doubled; Jerome had created a lifestyle craze. And the book has never been out of print since…”

Review by Richard Lambert, 3 Stars

It’s always such a pleasant day out going to the Mill at Sonning. It’s a full experience, not only a theatre production. Starting with drinks in the bar, a fantastic full 3 course meal, and then the show, it’s a treat for everybody!

This month, the production is the well-known “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome K. Jerome, a classic comedy. It feels very much in the genre of “last of the summer wine” a sort of slow but steady advance towards a goal that’s fairly insignificant. It’s the journey and the characters on that journey that matter.

The highlight of the production has to be the Set Design. A design that opens out and unfolds to reveal a countryside. The paint treatment aligns with the foldout and extends the image far into the outer edges of the theatre while incorporating a central projection screen which has subtle still video graphics. All rather tastefully done.

One of the central set pieces is the boat. This one has cut-out floor and is on wheels, allowing the cast to propel it along using their feet – in the style of Freddie Flintstone. Very cute and endearing. The costumes authentically display the Victorian era of gentlemen who while away their time at Henley-on-Thames.

The cast are great and the production does all it can with the material. It is rather dated though – there is a bedroom scene and the idea of 3 men sharing a hotel room with 2 beds is rather Laurel and Hardy and a giggle back in the day but possibly the humour might not land quite do solidly for a younger audience.

Settle back, shut the busy world out, and treat yourself to a piece of theatre that’s more aligned with zen than a faster-paced Silverstone racing track.

Photo credit: Andreas Lambis

Three Me In A Boat
by Jerome K. Jerome
adapted by Clive Francis

Joe Harmston Director
Sean Cavanagh Set Designer
Natalie Titchener Costume Designer
Mike Robertson Lighting Designer
Tom Lishman Sound Designer
Kate Plantin Casting Director


James Bradshaw (George)
Sean Rigby (Harris)
George Watkins (Jerome K. Jerome)

The Mill at Sonning Theatre, Sonning Eye, Reading, RG4 6TY

Two-course lunch or dinner is included with each show

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