I was first introduced to the works of John Buchan and The Thirty-Nine Steps by my Dad when I was quite young. And, naturally, I forgot about it, until I saw a movie adaptation directed by Alfred Hitchcock when I was old enough to appreciate it properly.
Here stylized as The 39 Steps, it tells the tale of Richard Hannay, wayward gentleman-at-leisure, who inadvertently finds himself involved in a dangerous game of espionage by the death of a mysterious femme-fatal. With the threat of war ever present, a charge of murder looming over his head, and the occasional brandy, Hannay must uncover the mystery of the “39 Steps”, and thwart the ambitions of a menacing mastermind only identifiable by a top joint missing from one of his fingers.
Being the most well recognized of the adaptations, it’s not that surprising that it serves as the inspiration behind the comedic theatrical effort (originally by by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon, rewritten in 2005 by Patrick Barlow), with one substantial difference; there are only four actors in the entire production.
Mike Smith is our hero, Richard Hannay, with piercing blue eyes and a pencil moustache, with Anna Burgess portraying every single woman he encounters. This leaves Sam Haft and Michael Lindner to play, and I mean this quite literally, everyone else. Between them, and with the help of many hats, speedy costume changes, limited props, and quite frequently hilarious accents, a huge number of characters are brought to life in rapid succession. I really cannot do justice to exactly how much work the pair has to do and how well they do it, with many moments causing spontaneous and tumultuous applause and laughter from a delighted audience.
The Athenaeum is the venue, and there are only a few shows left, so I urge you; see it now, you’ll thank me later.
- The Thirty-Nine Steps is a novel by John Buchan, comically adapted for the stage as The 39 Steps by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon, rewritten in 2005 by Patrick Barlow. This production is presented by HIT Productions, and stars Mike Smith, Anna Burgess, Sam Haft and Michael Lindner.
- Hilarious homage to the spy genre.
- Friday 3 October to Saturday 4 October 2014; Friday 17 and Saturday 18 October, 7.30pm each night and 2pm matinee on Saturdays.
- The Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins Street, Melbourne.
Tickets can be purchase online, via Ticketek here. Prices vary.
If you’re still not convinced, HIT have made a promotional video which you can see here.