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August 10, 2009 | by  | in Theatre | [ssba]

The 39 Steps


Four actors play 139 roles in 100 minutes in Circa’s production of The 39 Steps, an adaptation of the Alfred Hitchcock film and John Buchan Novel. Essentially it’s a series of gags with an amusing plotline to tie them together. Full of physical and meta-theatrical comedy, some jokes are hilarious, some anticipated but all up make a great night of entertainment. Andrew Foster’s set boasts lush red curtains, which open to reveal a relatively bare wooden stage with just the necessary set pieces, chairs, tables and windows, but all on wheels so they can be moved on and off by the performers and are an essential part of the comedy as it unfolds.

Cohen Holloway as Richard Hannay, on the run from police, suspected of a murder he didn’t commit. Holloway and Serena Cotton (as the eventual heroine and several other characters along the way) give fine performances; but it is Tim Spite and Julian Wilson as hundreds of minor characters that are the real stars of the show. They seamlessly jump from one part to the next (aided by some great costumes by Gillie Coxill), skillfully employing easy tricks like the change of a hat; yet whenever I found myself dubiously raising an eyebrow at the obviousness of a gag, as it played out, I’d suddenly be surprised by the punch line.

This is a slick and tight production with impeccable comic timing and energy from the performers, stage managers (Pat McIntosh, ASM: Emma Carruthers), technical operator (Thomas Press) who all pull off a huge number of tricks and routines, never missing a beat.

The 39 Steps
Written by John Buchan and Alfred Hitchcock
Adapted by Patrick Barlow
From an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon
Directed by: Peter Hambleton
By arrangement with Edward Snape
For Fiery Angel Limited
Directed by Peter Hambleton
Circa Theatre


About the Author ()

Fiona was named "Recessionista" in the ASPA Fashion Awards 2009 for her Takaka op-shop frock and spray painted shoes. She co-edits the arts section and also likes to write about women and other stuff.

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