Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The 39 Steps -Review- Little Theatre

The 39 Steps
Little Theatre
6 December 2011

I have always loved Hitchcock, with his brilliant sitting-on-the-edge-of-the-seat type of thrller, normally with enough twists to satisfy anybody with a helter skelter fetish.
The 39 Steps is one such film that I love, but this reworking/adaptation by Patrick Barlow is different is a few ways: humour and the introduction of a female character.
The basis of the story is the absconding of Richard Hannay (a bored, home again after a European visit, gentleman), who in a fairly confused way, has been set up for murder.
His victim Annabella, only came into his life the night before at the theatre. Before she 'died' Annabella, muttered that she was a spy, something that Hannay took with a pinch of salt, and that she needed to get to Scotland to stop the mysterious '39 Steps' leaving Britain.
This is where the humour, and the wonderfully decorated stage of props, really kicks in. Hannay decides that his adventurous nature must take him on a great journey. The stage comes alive with the runmbling of the London to Edinburgh train, the fells of Scotland and the brilliance of Hannay at his skills of undetection.
The skills of the actors are all too easy to spot in this play, only four actors take the place of a multitude of characters, from the train inspectors to the police, to the hotel owners and the love interest of Hannay. The acting is superb.It is only Hannay that escapes any character changes, he need all of his concentration eluding the police and the press. The humour is superb, with a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, there is a very special scene of puppetry with Hannay running from the police, not only with their dogs, but also a spotter plane. This caused uproars of laughter from the almost full Little Theatre audience.
Paul Manvell playing Hannay, was so cool and laid back, I think he got a lot of his character, from his own acting prowess, so good to see a leading man, hit it spot on!
Sandra Bones, who plays three parts in total, coped superbly with the costume/character changes, her acting was very good. My favourite was with her playing the prim and proper Pamela.
Jim Race and Wayne Fox, play everything else, with such a sense of ease. Have these two, played these characters all their lives? It certainly seemed so, the wonderful interaction between them, no matter what they were playing, no matter what dress they were in was just superb.
Marian Walker, who directed and produced this wonderful play, must have had her wits about her. With so much going on, so much happening, it was important that every scene was perfect, from where I was sitting it certainly was!
Superb stage sound and lighting from Robbie Carruthers and Mike Keir, they kept the suspense going with their skills.
I am not a fan of seeing the same play over and over, this is the second time in eight months, that I have seen The 39 Steps. With the talent of the Progressive Players drooling over this, I could quite happily force myself to sit through it all again.
The 39 Steps runs until Saturday.

Michael Hunter

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