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June 2005
The 39 steps
Robert Whitelock as Hannay and Lisa Jackson
Robert Whitelock as Hannay and Lisa Jackson

The 39 Steps

Tuesday 19 - Saturday 23 July

New Staging of Hitchcock's Cult Classic coming to the Playhouse

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By George Tew

"They said it was unstageable!" runs the jokey tagline advertising this production. Well, "they" were certainly wrong, as John Buchan's classic tale of adventure and espionage is brilliantly brought to the stage, transformed into a hilarious comedy.

The action-packed story races along at breakneck speed, as our hero, Richard Hannay, tracks down a master spy. Along the way he is tracked across the Scottish moors by police who believe him to be a murderer, shot at by an aeroplane, handcuffed to the girl of his dreams, and much more.

The sheer verve of the plot is entertaining in itself, but it's the knockabout comedy that makes this show so appealing. Mark Hadfield and Simon Gregor play over a dozen eccentric characters with gusto - a laughing policeman, a music hall comedian, a travelling salesmen, to mention only a selection. Each of these turns is thoroughly enjoyable, and executed with aplomb - at one point they even swap characters mid-scene. There are also fine performances from Robert Whitelock as the amiable Hannay, and Lisa Jackson as the lissom female roles. It's sometimes hard to believe that only four actors can generate so much energy and action.

I defy anyone to resist the charms of this light hearted, witty pastiche. A delightful evening.

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