The 39 Steps – The Star, Sheffield 16Feb2012
Patrick Barlow’s adaptation of John Buchan’s book lampoons the serious Hitchcock film of the same name.
In director Ian G Walker’s hands, Tudor Players make it a very, very funny play.
Our hero Richard Hannay, is played expertly by a dapper John Moran, complete with immaculate hair, pipe and the obligatory pencil moustache. He spends most of the play running from the police and foreign spies for a murder he did not commit.
Hansel D’Roza and his set team have their work cut out as the characters appear in no less than fourteen locations including the Forth Bridge and the London Palladium.
The script is good and Moran’s deliberately underwhelming, stiff upper lip deliveries are amusing. It is the inventiveness of the cast using props however, which is the most fun. John Fereday and Phil Gascoyne for example, who play multiple parts, have a great train station scene. Fereday flips back and forth between station announcer and passenger using hats whilst Gascoyne does the same between passenger and newspaper seller. Moran provides special effects by flapping his own coat when simulating running on top of a train. A lot of the clever prop manipulation is down to intricate timing helped by choreographer Aggie Gryszel.
We even get the biplane chase from the film as a computerised outline of Hannay is projected onto a screen followed by a similarly simple plane image.
Emma O’Neill only manages three parts but enjoys stretching her accent repertoire with an Allo Allo German, Scottish and accurate plum English.