Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The 39 Steps

Steve and I trotted up to London recently to see a show.  The sun was shining, work was done for the day and the Big Smoke was decidedly less smoky than normal.  A meal and the theatre was the perfect outing to relax and spend quality time together.    I declared in a most determined fashion that I wanted to be entertained.  Not hard in London you would imagine but the sheer scope of options available to you does leave you feeling a little bemused on occasion.  A tiny Italian restaurant gave us the time to consider and debate our options.  We narrowed it down to two.  Then we made our choice.

Not a musical for a change but a play.
A side-splitting, blissfully funny, stiff-upper-lip-complete-with-pencil-mustache romp through England and Scotland in the 1930's as the dashingly handsome and charming Richard Hannay with a decidedly devil-may-care attitude fights off dastardly spies, despicable professors, and rotten rogues all with a distinct knack for awkward conversation with the ladies.

The 39 Steps is Olivier Award Winning slapstick humour at its finest with a twist.  A Thriller Comedy by Hitchcock, 4 actors play 139 characters in 100 minutes.  It leaves you utterly breathless with wonder.  One scene in particular left me speechless as 2 actors switched through four characters complete with costume changes in the space of seconds.
The set looks simple enough but model trains, puppet theatre and an incredibly clever and creative prop department transform the stage from London's West End to the Scottish Highlands, from train carriages to farmers huts and grand mansions, chases through the hills and dales and the bedroom of a remote hotel.  It is astounding to watch.

The actors are superb, slick, fast paced, witty and fantastic chemistry between all four.  Some of the jokes are hammered home quite forcefully but this is the nature of the play.  It is not afraid to pick itself up, shake itself off and remind the audience that it is well aware it is a play thank you very much. 

Based at The Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly it is simple to get to and just around the corner from Leicester Square.  China Town and St James Park helped to while away the time until curtain up with dinner courtesy of Piccadilly.
Tickets are ridiculously reasonably priced, especially if you go to the licensed booths in Leicester Square or purchase last minute from the Theatre Box Office.

I like to think I am reasonably experienced when it comes to the Theatre - I have seen a lot of plays and musicals and know what I like and what I don't like.

I LOVED this play.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I have heard rumours it is going on tour and coming to the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury soon.


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