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Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) – Synetic Theater

Jordan Wright
May 9, 2014
Special to The Alexandria Times

Photo by Koko Lanham. Tim Getman as George, Rob Jansen as Harris, Tom Story as Jerome, Alex Mills as Montmorency

Photo by Koko Lanham. Tim Getman as George, Rob Jansen as Harris, Tom Story as Jerome, Alex Mills as Montmorency

In a departure from the dance-centric, laser-lit, sexy productions I’ve come to expect from Synetic, along comes Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog).  I suppose I wasn’t ready for it though I’d previewed a snippet of a trailer on their website and knew that the cast was all-male – – another anomaly.  The first exercise for this reviewer was looking for the existentialistic message, I’d been told there was one, though you shouldn’t let that get in the way of the hilarity which gets off to a terrific start in Set Designer Lisi Stoessel’s version of a 19th Century England drawing room replete with chaise longue, Japanese screen and quaint settee.  Here three down-at-the-heels high society bachelors, with an aversion to real work and a keen sense of the leisure life, are mulling over the state of their humdrum lives.  To remedy their ennui the friends fantasize about camping in the great outdoors and decide to take a ten-day boating adventure on the Thames.

Photo by Koko Lanham. Rob Jansen as Harris, Tom Story as Jerome.

Photo by Koko Lanham. Rob Jansen as Harris, Tom Story as Jerome.

Jerome (Tom Story), a self-proclaimed hypochondriac, passes the time perusing medical journals, imagining he has every disease in the book, beginning with the letter A.  “I have everything but housekeeper’s knees,” he proudly announces to Harris (Rob Jansen).  All three of these blasé fops seize every opportunity to proclaim their views on the state of the world and their dissatisfaction of it.  The kicker is in the actors’ to-the-manor-born delivery – – utterly deadpan and screamingly sardonic.

Photo by Koko Lanham. Tim Getman as George.

Photo by Koko Lanham. Tim Getman as George.

But, alas, these scions of British society are reduced to sharing rented rooms.  And though only one of them, George (Tim Getman), has a job, at least Jerome has a dog to occupy his time – – a fox terrier named Montmorency (Alex Mills) – – whose doggy thoughts are translated to us by his master.

After reading of fatalities on the river and ominous weather reports they nevertheless decide to push off.  Projections Designer, Shane O’Loughlin, effectively uses images projected onto the five-fold screen to capture the changing landscape of the men’s journey.

Photo by Koko Lanham. Projections by Shane O'Loughlin.

Photo by Koko Lanham. Projections by Shane O’Loughlin.

Their patter is straight out of the P. G. Wodehouse School of English Humor and Wit with room for Jerome’s waxing poetical, and metaphorical, about nature.  “Night is like Mother,” expounds Jerome in one of his tender moments.

There are countless hilarious scenes as one hapless antic leads to another.  When it is discovered that there is no mustard for their cold meat it nearly causes a riot.  “I grow restless when I want a thing,” Jerome explains.  Another scene has them trying to trick a teapot into boiling by pretending to ignore it.  While on the boat, which they appear to have appropriated, it’s when they realize they have forgotten to pack a can opener for a tin of pineapple.  After they try opening it with a knife, scissors and even an umbrella (which they have needlessly remembered to bring), they begin to go mad from hunger, threatening murder and mayhem upon each other.  At this point the dog catches a rat which he unceremoniously offers up, challenging them to plop it into their crazy concoction of an Irish stew.  Absurdity promptly ensues.

Alex Mills as The Dog, is adorable.  His brilliant capturing of a dog’s personality (he studied footage of Jack Russell Terriers while others were rehearsing their lines) and excellent pantomime prove to be the most endearing of the script’s dynamic.

Through June 8th at Synetic Theater, 1800 South Bell Street, Arlington in Crystal City.  For tickets and information call 1-866-811-4111 or visit

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