The 39 Steps – adapted by Patrick Barlow
Theatre Royal Bath
The 39 Steps has become a sure-fire comedy favourite with regular theatre goers. Having enjoyed an extended run in the West End it is definitely worth catching on its current tour. The classic Hitchcock film adapted the original novel by John Buchan significantly by keeping the main protagonist Richard Hannay and introducing a female love interest to aid the narrative. However, here we have a cast of four playing many characters, the story rattles along at a whirlwind pace with lashings of comedy, stiff upper lips and a fine pencil moustache.
Hannay is on the hunt for The 39 Steps, who or what are they? He is wrongly accused of murder and is off in search of the truth and to prove his innocence. His journey from Portland Square to the highlands of Scotland is captured through physical theatre, puppetry and general foolery. The fun never stops and the constant costume changing and hat swapping ingenious.
Richard Ede (Hannay) is every inch the English gent alongside Olivia Greene as the many love interests; Andrew Hodges and Rob Witcomb complete the extraordinary range of characters from highland hotel couple, underwear salesmen to various policemen and villains with great style.
The inspired design (Peter McKintosh,) Direction (for the tour James Farrell) and Movement Direction (Toby Sedgwick) set the tone for some wonderful gags. This is a great antidote for the chilly weather and perfect family entertainment.
**** (4 Stars)