Photograph by Tristram KentonThe 39 Steps

Written by John Buchan
Adapted by Patrick Barlow
Directed by Maria Aitken
Liverpool Playhouse
3rd December 2009 - 16th January 2010

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

The famous book penned by John Buchan and the classic film by Alfred Hitchcock are brought to the stage in the form of a comedy.

Does it succeed in this format? Generally yes, but it does become a bit predictable at times, with key parts of the movie being parodied without any great comedic effect.

Four actors play all the characters - apparently they take the part of 139 roles throughout the production - with Dugald Bruce-Lockhart as Richard Hannay the only person to perform one role.

It is accepted that the audience would need to have read the book or watched the film to appreciate the play to the fullest extent. But the problem is that the actors are strutting their stuff before a ready-made audience, who lapped up what was served up to them without any real critical appraisal. For instance the love interest between Hannay and Pamela (Katherine Kingsley), who are handcuffed together, becomes rather tedious and twee. Also the scene where Hannay addresses a town hall meeting in the guise of an invited guest drags on too long.

A highlight was the shadow play, which imaginatively enacted the 'police' chase of Hannay over the fog-shrouded lochs of Scotland. The play includes every single scene from Hitchcock's film but maybe that is the problem. It serves up only what you might expect.

Printer friendly page

Sorry Comments Closed