Following a successful run last year, The 39 Steps has returned to the New Vic Theatre with a bang!
First published in 1915, John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps was the first of five novels featuring Richard Hannay and Alfred Hitchcock’s lauded 1935 masterpiece paved the way for more adaptations, a record-breaking West End run, stints on Broadway, and a host of awards including two Tony Awards.
In 2019 the reworking of this classic thriller came to the New Vic and was was very well received by audiences. It was full of comedy, there was stellar acting and super direction under Theresa Heskins.
In 2020 the same cast – Isaac Stanmore, Rebecca Brewer, Michael Hugo and Gareth Cassidy – are reunited, Theresa Heskins again directs and the comedy throughout is genius.
With more than 120 characters played between the four cast members, the pace is fast, energy is at its highest and a standing ovation at the end is fully deserved by all.
Unlikely hero Richard Hannay, played by the ever convincing Isaac Stanmore finds himself in all kinds of trouble after meeting a mysterious woman who is then killed in his apartment.
As Hannay goes on the run he finds himself on a mission from London to Scotland meeting all sorts of characters along the way.
Rebecca Brewer plays several female “friends” of Hannay’s – switching from the lavish Annabella Schmidt, to a young Scottish lady and a sweet innocent traveller – which she does with sheer finesse.
The comical chemistry between Michael Hugo and Gareth Cassidy, who play an abundance of characters, was duly noted in the 2019 play. In 2020 the presence and comedy they produce in the round isn’t just noted, it explodes.
Switching from character to character and from accent to accent in a split second is simply genius by the pair – and great to watch!
Great lighting and sound effects all add to the mix for a fantastic performance in which everything works and one which left the audience grinning from ear to ear once again.
Bringing The 39 Steps back to the New Vic for a second time around may have had some questioning if it would be as well received as last time – I think it’s safe to say those questions have now been answered.
Without a doubt this review has – 5* plus!
The 39 Steps is at the New Vic Theatre until Saturday 28 March.