Over on the theatre side of comedy, one of the humorous highlights of the West End in recent years has been Patrick Barlow’s adaptation of John Buchan’s The 39 Steps. Best-known as a classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller, it was recreated as a fast-paced romp for the stage a decade ago – and The 39 Steps continues its acclaimed London run at the beautiful Criterion Theatre.
The play’s conceit calls for the entirety of the 1935 film to be performed with a cast of only four. One actor plays the hero, Richard Hannay, an actress (or sometimes actor) plays the three women with whom he has romantic entanglements, and two other actors play every other character in the show: heroes, villains, men, women, children and even the occasional inanimate object. This often requires lightning fast quick-changes and occasionally for them to play multiple characters at once. Thus the film’s serious spy story is played mainly for laughs, and the script is full of allusions to (and puns on the titles of) other Alfred Hitchcock films, including Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, Psycho, Vertigo and North by Northwest.
What are you waiting for?!
The 39 Steps is at the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly, Monday-Saturday 8pm, plus Weds matinee (3pm) and Sat matinee (4pm). Call the box office on 0844 847 1778 or visit www.love39steps.com
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