Writer Patrick Barlow adapted The 39 Steps in 2006 where it became an instant success at the Tricycle Theatre London. Since then, it has gone on to win an Olivier Award for best new comedy and played for nine years at the Criterion Theatre Piccadilly Circus. It is fair to say that there has been many adaptations made for film and stage since John Buchan's original spy novel was first published in 1915, and not many have kept to the original story.
There is only a cast of four who take on a plethora of characters in what is a very fast paced comedy, fuelled by bags of energy and a very tight script. Richard Ede is the only member of the cast who takes on the one role - the dashing, charismatic and charming Richard Hannay. He plays him with the sophistication and suaveness you would expect from a young bachelor playboy who wishes that something exciting would happen. Enter Annabelle, the gorgeous Russian who has a secret to tell but is murdered and suddenly Hannay finds himself on a mad dash across Scotland, encountering murders, double crossing secret agents and dashingly beautiful women.
The charming Olivia Greene plays the parts of Annabelle, Pamela and Margaret, all requiring different accents and she delivers each character very strongly. Completing the line up, Andrew Hodges and Rob Witcomb known simply as 'Man 1' & 'Man 2' have the lions share in playing the many different characters in the story. Physical comedy features heavily and works very well as these two race about the stage literally changing characters as they go. A very good double act that proved to be a hit with the audience.
This version is adapted from Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1935 film and although there may not be the usual suspense and tension that you would expect from a traditional spy story, what you do get is a delightfully hilarious show.