The 39 Steps

The 39 Steps

Written by John Buchan
Adapted by Patrick Barlow
Presented by Tricycle London Productions Ltd in association with West Yorkshire Playhouse
Liverpool Playhouse
4th April – 9th April 2016

Reviewed by Colin Serjent
Photograph by Dan Tsantilis

The famous book penned by John Buchan and the classic film adaptation 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 only Richard Ede as Richard Hannay the only one to perform the 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 (Olivia Greene), who are handcuffed together, becomes rather tedious and twee.

Also the scene where Hannay addresses a town hall meeting, under the guise of an invited guest, drags on too long.

A highlight was the shadow play, which imaginatively enacted the chase after Hannay by the ‘police’ 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 expect.

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