39 Steps: Previewed

Sofia previews a performance of Barlow’s adaptation of a Hitchcock classic

What? The 39 Steps 

When? 12 and 13th of February 7:30pm  

Where? Byre Theatre

Ticket link: here

Credit: Mermaids

John Buchan wrote The 39 Steps because he found himself in a similar position to Richard Hannay at the beginning of the play; bored, be-duodenal ulcered and stuck in Broadstairs, a place which proved a great deal more uninteresting than South Africa, where he had been working. He had exhausted his supply of airport thrillers to distract him during his recovery. And so, he resolved to write his own. What he produced was a thrilling, just-about-unbelievable-ripping-yarn; exactly the tonic he required to distract himself from the suppurating wound in his tummy. I can testify for myself just how effective it is; I first read this book as an ill teenager, and in an unprecedented and (ashamedly) only once repeated anomaly, I drank its 100 pages or so in on one sitting.     


Credit: Mermaids

Many attempts have been made to adapt the book for television or film, however none has been so evocative as Alfred Hitchcock’s take, released in 1935. Robert Donat’s velvety good looks, Madeleine Carroll’s blonde feistiness and the dramatic backdrops, all more or less convincingly created in a studio, amounts to a spectacularly enduring and endearing adventure caper. This is the film which has been so seamlessly adapted for stage by Patrick Barlow and shall be ticked off hilariously in the Byre on Monday and Tuesday.                                                                                                 

This play recreates the Hitchcock classic with the utmost faith. The thrilling chase sequences are all there, the Forth Bridge, the aeroplane chase, the hair-raising denouement, but with five actors playing the nigh on 120 different characters. Or something; I mean I haven’t really counted but the ratio is definitely off.

The film, nor the play, is not an accurate depiction of the book whatsoever, but Buchan loved it nonetheless. This swashbuckling adventure story is irresistible. So come along next week; If you enjoy watching the thing nearly half as much as we have enjoyed working on it, we shall be ahead of the game!




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