Saturday 21 March 2009

The 39 Steps

To celebrate my father's birthday yesterday (Happy Birthday, Dad!) we went to see The 39 Steps at the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus.

With a mere four actors playing 139 characters in 100 minutes, the show promised to be funny, fast and furious. And, happily, it kept that promise. Inventive, clever, entertaining, amusing - in many places, laugh-out-loud comical and jaw-droppingly creative - there are an absurd number of adjectives that I could use to describe this production, but I shall attempt to restrain myself!

What I will tell you is that my mother (who is not a huge fan of trekking up to the West End for any reason) considered it the perfect type of show (comedy action adventure), in the perfect location (just next to Piccadilly Circus tube station, so no long changes at Green Park required) and lasting the perfect length of time (1hr 45 mins, including the interval). If it was good enough to convert her, then just imagine what it could do for you... ;-)

No prior knowledge of the book or various film and television adaptations is required. 'Richard Hannay' does a very good job of introducing himself and explaining his situation as the story begins, and the old-style radio broadcasts that punctuate the action thoughout the show keep even the most obtuse audience member up to date as the poor man is chased up and down the country, trying to protect state secrets, unearth foreign spies and escape from a police force determined to arrest him for a murder he did not commit!

After something of a theatrical drought, I now have a few more theatre trips booked for the next couple of months, including Brief Encounter in April and the (hopefully) spectacular Peter Pan for my own birthday in June. If the upcoming shows - all of which I have heard good things about - are anywhere near as impressive as yesterday night's was, I shall be a very happy theatregoer indeed...

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