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The 39 Steps is a play, which is a parody adapted from the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock of the same name. The play calls for the entirety of the 1935 adventure film to be performed with a cast covering multiple roles, from heroes to villains, men to women, and many more. As you can imagine, this leads to some hilarious results.
Richard Hannay (Charlie Shephard) is the focus of the peice as he is on a mission to uncover the mystery of The 39 Steps whilst trying to run away from being accused of a murder. Along the way he meets a handful of characters, from alluring ladies to dodgy cops and other questionable characters. Whilst the story was a little slow-to-start, and perhaps had people who didn’t know the peice beforehand a little miffed, but once the story begun to unfold the audience were quickly swept up in the manic chase of the murderer who didn’t do it… and left you wondering what madness could possibly happen next.
It has everything you would expect from a traditional yet timeless farce. It’s fast paced, energetic and quite simply just a good hearty laugh. Something the world could always use a little more of.
The cast is traditionally set to be only four people sharing all the many roles, but in this adaptation there are ten cast members – however the New Wolsey Young Company get to show off their impressive talents, and I’m certain this is only the start of their promising futures. Charlie Shephard in particular is a joy – as he didn’t leave the stage once. His energy, physicality, charisima and natural ability to ad-lib was incredible. The women of the cast were a great match to Shephard and showcased some strong comedy, and the ensemble of men covering multiple roles had the audience laughing from the start. Given that it’s a very physical comedy type of show, the cast made it look easy – but I know it can be hard to get right, luckily these guys get it spot on.
The New Wolsey Studio seems the perfect fit for such a show, as the intimacy of the space makes the audience almost feel part of the show and the laughter ripples around the room nicely. This production is undoubtably a triumph,and is the kind of comical tonic we all need from time to time. If you can grab a ticket, I’m certain you won’t regret doing so.
The 39 Steps runs at the New Wolsey Studio until Saturday 4th May. Final tickets remain: www.wolseytheatre.co.uk/the-39-steps