Community theatre group recreates spy thriller as comedy

Wednesday 19 February 2014, 15:39

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Hitchcock’s classic adaptation of John Buchan’s novel The 39 Steps is a favourite with many a film-buff.

It was one of the original ‘man-on-the-run’ thrillers but in recent years a comic theatrical reworking of the film has proved popular in London’s West End and scooped several awards.

The 39 Steps

This week the play is being staged by the Castaway Community Theatre and will see the serious spy story played for laughs with a farcical plot line, live music and a whole host of weird and wonderful characters.

The theatre group is based at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre and features actors of all ages and levels of experience.

Director David Blumfield told me: “It’s a very self-conscious theatrical production and even features a Charleston routine at one point.

“I think it will appeal to a wide audience because there will be fans of the original Hitchcock film as well as the 1959 version and those that are looking for an evening of laughs and entertainment.

“Unlike the West End version we have 20 actors instead of four so there aren’t as many crazy costume changes but there are plenty of opportunities for comedy.”

The insanely fast-paced plot follows the hero, Richard Hannay, on an adventure that sees him embroiled in an international spy trap, jumping off a train, wandering the wilds of Scotland and involved in various romantic entanglements, including one which sees him handcuffed to a woman called Pamela!

The script is full of allusions to other Alfred Hitchcock films, including Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, Psycho, Vertigo and North by Northwest.

David added: “The great thing about Castaway is that it’s been going since 1991 and is run like every other arts centre class like pottery or dance and we don’t audition for parts.

“This means we have actors aged from 19-60 and of all abilities, from trained professionals to complete novices.

“It offers a great opportunity for people to get theatrical experience and for students to mix with locals and many people really enjoy the social side as well as the performance side.”

Production Co-ordinator Richard Hull said: ‘It’s fantastic that so many people from our local community have the opportunity to present such a famous story under the caring direction of David Blumfield, who has been at the helm of this arts centre company for more than 20 years.

“The play shares the plot and characters with the Hitchcock film. However, the play is a more comic treatment of the story, in the style of Monty Python compared to the original and more serious film.

“It promises to be a cracking entertainment, with live music and a kaleidoscope of characters bought to life by the talents of Aberystwyth town and gown.”

The 39 Steps is at Aberystwyth Arts Centre from Wednesday 19 - Friday 21 February at 7.30pm.

To book call the box office on 01970 62 32 32 or visit www.aber.ac.uk/artscentre.

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