★★★★★ The 39 Steps | This production was masterful in every aspect of theatre-craft. It encompassed staging that was bursting with creativity in every nook and cranny. Designed by Peter McKintosh, the set came alive through different entrances and exits which were revealed as actors turned them around, flipped them upside down, and they were even mounted in all sorts of angles.
CREDIT: Dan Tsantilis
Last night’s The 39 Steps adapted by Patrick Barlow from Alfred Hitchcock’s film concept combined with Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon created a riot like no other. The 39 Steps written originally by John Buchan in 1915 has rippled the century with performances onstage, TV and three separate film adaptations. All of which tried to put a different note into its creation.
The cast consisted of just four actors, and how fantastic they were. Equally masterminding comedy like never before seen, while moving acrobatically across, upwards, downwards and literally in every direction possible and not, through the stage. Richard Ede came out victorious with his charming, suave, and spirited portrayal of the protagonist Richard Hannay. Not only did he possess ‘a handsome pencil-moustache’, his energy never faltered, nor did he provide a dull moment, whilst keeping up with the two men that followed him everywhere embodying many types of roles. The most impressive stunt Richard performed was the train sequence where he leapt, from box to box (train rooftop), to then ending up suspended under a wood beam (the bridge), while running on the spot to show the lengths Hannay went to escape the police who had spent half of the show trying to track him down. Ede’s counter-actor Olivia Greene who played Pamela, Annabella and Margaret, held her own as the only female actor on stage against three men whose effervescence was sky-high. She kept the pace and multi-part played excellently, showing three different strokes of comedy genius.
The hosts with the most were Andrew Hodges and Rob Witcomb who played everyone else, and uniquely adapting each portrayal suiting the character to each scene. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what stood out from the duo, simply because it was all outstanding, and if there was to be a doctorate in comedy, Hodges and Witcomb just pioneered it. What was consistent about all their performances was the dedication to each character, the altruism of giving the other actors as much imagination as possible, and both were clever and slick in the way they transitioned from one role to the other.
This version of The 39 Steps is worthy of 6 stars if it was possible to give it, but anyone who has any doubt about going to see it, know that you will be working on a sick-pack by the belly laughs you will be undergoing.