"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
THE 39 STEPS
day for Patrick Barlow's send-up of Buchan [and Hitchcock] down in
the lovely little Criterion, where the tube trains rumble below and
rich Rococo ceiling glitters above.
perfect setting for this small-scale shoestring production – it
stands in for the Palladium [cue
Sunday Night theme]
in the dénouement, and its bare stage, fly-ropes and marker tape, a
visible reminder of the absurd theatricality of this breathless
canter through the familiar plot.
1935 film is a constant point of reference – the train [“Coronation
Scot” on the soundtrack as the tiny toy chuffs across behind the
footlights] and the planes, with Alfred himself one of the wobbly
over-acting, and a breathlessly physical style, keeps the pace lively
for 100 minutes – the cast has changed almost as often as the
Mousetrap since Charles Edwards brought his Hannay to these boards
back in 2006. The pipe, the
and the stiff upper lip now belong to Daniel Llewellyn-Williams, the
women are [mostly] played by Kelly Hotten, and the quick-change
broker's men – police officers,
Scots matrons and travellers in ladies' underwear – are dazzlingly done by Gary Scotton [a memorably
inaudible orator as well as Mr Memory] and understudy Darryl Clark.
peerless production, directed
by Maria Aitken,
is off on tour; its place at the Criterion to be taken by Bert
Bacharach, I believe.