The 39 Steps: A Comedy

A murdered spy, a misty Scottish moor, a dastardly plot and a daring escape (coupled with a stiff upper lip and rather attractive pencil moustache) are the order of the day as dashing hero, Richard Hannay, uncovers the secrets of The 39 Steps in this knockabout comedy.

Based on the book and the Hitchcock film of the same name The 39 Steps is a classic spy thriller which finds our hero, Richard Hannay, falsely accused of the murder of a seductive spy, leading him to go on the run to Scotland and to uncover a dastardly plot to smuggle secrets out of the country.

The show takes a comedy sideswipe at the spy films of the 30’s and 40’s whilst displaying a genuine affection for the source material, but the twist with this production is that the 130 characters that adorn the stage are played by just four actors, who give a whistle stop tour of the major plot points and protagonists at breakneck speed, bringing with it a comedy style which is not dissimilar to the “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun” films, with just a hint of “The League Of Gentlemen” thrown in.

In terms of this production’s presentation, the stripped back show is stripped back even further, but still manages to be effective. Wilf Walsworth fares best in his role as Hannay, playing his part with his tongue firmly in his cheek and with a sly, knowing wink to the audience. Jordan Mayers, Eleanor Wright and Ryan Footitt functionally fill out the cast, but the demarcation of the different characters and a lot of the more subtle comedy was somewhat lost to their shouty and overly enthusiastic delivery at times, and the production would benefit from a little reining in of their performances. That said, there were some decent ad libs from the cast to smooth over the rough edges and enough groans and giggles to make this a suitably silly evening.

The 39 Steps is an amateur production by the Sheffield University Theatre Company and is currently playing at Sheffield University Drama Studio on Shearwood Road, S10 2TD until Saturday 18th November 2017. Click here for full details.

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