The 39 Steps Review

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Isaac Stanmore as Richard Hannay and Rebecca Brewer as Annabella Schmidt in The 39 Steps. Photo by Andrew Billington

The 39 Steps at the New Vic has more pace and energy than you could imagine for a genius play in the round.

With four actors playing more than 120 characters, this adaptation directed by Theresa Heskins, has you captivated from the start.

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.

At the New Vic, unlikely hero Richard Hannay (Isaac Stanmore) find himself in all kinds of tricky situations after meeting Annabella Schmidt – who is then killed in his apartment.

Trying his best to elude the police, who want to arrest him for murder, Hannay finds himself on a train ride caper which takes him from London to Scotland.

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Left to right – Michael Hugo and Gareth Cassidy. Photo by Andrew Billington.

Gareth Cassidy and Michael Hugo as the clowns, are hilarious as they switch from one character to the next during the train journey, which is more than adequately supported by lighting, sound and stage props.

Somehow Hannay manages to survive not only the train journey, but also an air raid attack on him. The sound effects again all add to the animated atmosphere which leaves the audience in uproar.

Rebecca Brewer is more than convincing as Annabella Schmidt, Pamela and Margaret – three different characters delivered in a stellar performance.

Isaac Stanmore plays Hannay to perfection and it has to be said, Gareth Cassidy and Michael Hugo are undoubtedly comedy heaven.

From start to finish there were smiles all round in a fantastic overall performance which you want to watch again and again.

The question is What are the 39 Steps…? Head to the New Vic to find out.

**The 39 Steps is at the New Vic until March 30. Go to Baba’s What’s ON for ticket information here.