THEATRE REVIEW: The 39 Steps ★★★★★

The 39 steps
The Barn Theatre, Cirencester
10th July-10th August 2019

After watching the show upon its stop at the Everyman theatre whilst on its UK tour in 2014, I knew this would be an incredibly entertaining evening and this particular production did not disappoint. The 39 Steps is a take on the Hitchcock classic, in an inventive comedic-thriller parody of the 1915 novel by John Butchan. The show follows the adventures of Richard Hannay as he encounters murders, double-crossing secret agents, and devastatingly beautiful women.

The incredible direction from Joseph O’Malley, kept the audience engaged and entertained throughout the duration of the show and there was never a weak moment on stage. Similarly to Henry V, the centre isle was used very effectively and gave an intimate feel to the performance and made you feel like a part of the audience during the London palladium scenes. The staging and set design was also very clever in these scenes and I loved the use of the makeshift theatre box upstage left, where the actors were looking out into the audience where the box would be in the realistic setting of the theatre.

The set was also a highlight of the show as it consisted of many props and pieces of scenery within a small space but was cleverly designed so it could be moved and adapted quickly so the comedic tension throughout the scene wasn’t lost due to overly long scene changes as with some productions. Mike Leapold’s set and costume design helped keep the swiftness of the piece and energy levels high, thanks to the speed in which the actors were able to move set on and off stage whilst swapping costumes in rapid time due to multi-roling over 140 parts between 4 actors. The multi-roling was very strong in this production with entertaining slapstick comedy from the two clowns (Jonathan Borne and Colin Elmer) and believable accents to help make different characters differentiate from each other.

Two standout moments during were when Hannay and Pamela were running away from the police in act 2. Throughout the scene, Borne and Elmer multi-rolled different parts of the setting from squelching mud to a pond which was done with brilliant comedic timing from both actors. Another moment was just after this scene when Hannay and Pamela were in the hotel room, where awkward tension was perfectly built up throughout this scene from Tricia Adele-Turner and Max Hutchinson. However standout moments were very hard to pick from this particular production as it was so jam-packed with non-stop entertainment throughout the chaos of Hannay’s adventures.

Overall, this was another incredible and entertaining production from the Barn. Don’t miss out on a night out full of laughter and entertainment, this is a show not to be missed.


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