the 39 steps


The New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme, has given its usual brilliance to this classic play as it runs for the whole of March.

The 39 Steps is the fifth longest running play in West End history and has been turned into a film 4 times.  Each time the plot changes slightly to that of the original book and each time to varying effect.  This adaptation is exquisite.  It takes the highly talented cast and draws on their strengths.

Michael Hugo is no stranger to the New Vic and is one of the finest comic actors I have seen.  He is always brilliant and this production is no exception.  He pairs brilliantly with Gareth Cassidy who is another brilliant actor.  Both are listed as Clown in the programme but this title seems a great injustice for the comic brilliance they both are and is probably more because they can't list all of the characters they play.

The 39 Steps famously uses just 4 actors for all of the parts in the play.  Isaac Stanmore, who plays Richard Hannay, is the only actor to just play 1 part however that is not easy.  He brings across the emotion required by his character as well as the comic timings of the play like a true expert.

The final cast member is Rebecca Brewer who, like her fellow cast members, is outstanding.  From the moment she first appears on stage she impresses.  Her comic accents and over the top death give the first real laughter moments of the show.

Theresa Hoskins has incorporated some of her trademark moments into this show, including the flying money, but she also makes the story appear fresh and new to the audience.  The use of the round staging is done with such skill that you don't ever pay any attention to it, the show just works!
I was laughing from beginning to end, the staging is fantastic with the light up floor letters and projections as well as multi use sections.  the costumes and actors are constantly changing and the actors know how to work the audience.

This is a show you do not want to miss!  I want to see it again and again and again.  It is a true thriller and comedy rolled into one.

Reviewed by Daniel Keen at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme.

The 39 Steps is playing at the New Vic until Saturday 30th March.  For more information and tickets visit the shows website.