The 39 Steps

Date 12th April 2019
Society Winton Players
Venue Petersfield Festival Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Laura Sheppard

Report

Author: Chris Horton

The 39 Steps (book by John Buchan, film by Alfred Hitchcock and now this reworking of the spy novel) is rich pickings for comedy with every theme possible from romance, to politics, to murder and intrigue.   It opens with a bored Richard Hannay, an upper-class twit who is bored and he ponders how to fill his time. He goes to see a West end show, meets a mysterious gun wielding female and the evening is set for a series of memorable moments, lots of verbal and visual brilliance and an enormous amount of laughs. Director Laura Sheppard assembled an excellent cast with Simon Stanley leading the action as Hannay. Simon maintained the energy and comedy of Hannay’s character and was very enjoyable to watch. 

The set was ever changing with picture frames used as windows, blocks became beds or train seats, two stools and an easy chair formed a car.   Furniture whizzed around by the cast and crew.   Other scene changes (with more traditional furniture) were efficient and seamless and were done while the action continued.

The music and sound effects were an integral part of the show and were hugely instrumental in its success. In an inspired stroke of genius the Foley Team (Sound Effects) were in full view of the audience and many of that team doubled up with a variety of minor roles.  

Costumes and hair-styles were appropriate for the period and added to the nostalgic feel of the production. There were many quick changes, hats especially being used to show change of character, milkman, policeman, train guard and so on.

Director Laura Sheppard assembled an excellent cast with Simon Stanley leading the action as Hannay. Simon maintained the energy and comedy of Hannay’s character and was very enjoyable to watch. There were so many funny moments and it was all staged beautifully. My personal favourite being the appearance of a flock of sheep and my favourite sound effect; bubble wrap for the crackling fire.  Much of the success of this fast-moving spoof depended on the production team, many of whom were also in the cast. The production was a delight from start to finish and enjoyed by the large and appreciative audience.