One often associates first night nerves with the cast of a play. But for director Craig Gilbert it’s equally as nerve racking for him as it is for the actors.

“I find the first night almost unbearable. It makes me feel physically nauseous,” the director of Three Men In A Boat confessed.

“I have to sit in and be with everyone else. It’s like a sleep paralysis time where you can’t affect anything – there is nothing you can do about it.”

Craig’s stage adaptation of Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat stars Michael Rouse as George, Tom Hackney as Harris, David Partridge as J and Anna Westlake as Nelly. It opened last month.

In an attempt to escape the stresses of city life, three friends, J, Harris and George, accompanied by their faithful canine companion Montmorency, decide to take to the river in order to relax and rejuvenate. The holiday, however, quickly unravels and descends into chaos.

Originally intended as a guide to boating on the Thames, Jerome’s ripping yarn of youthful friendship, mischief and folly celebrates the very essence of Britishness. In Craig’s production, this classic tale of boating misadventure comes complete with a working pub, live piano accompaniment, some ale, music hall singing, a dog and a lot of physical comedy.

“It’s a book I have read many times since I was quite young. My English teacher said it was the funniest thing he had ever read,” says Craig.

“Because I have read it so many times I knew the book quite well when I sat down to adapt it.

“The main purpose of Three Men In A Boat is to make people laugh.”

And Craig hopes that’s what this latest production at Theatre Royal Windsor will do.

Three Men IN A Boat is presented by The Original Theatre Company and Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. It will be at Theatre Royal Windsor from Monday until Saturday. For tickets visit or call the box office on 01753 853888.