Review by Carlo Vuolo, Cirencester Scene
Take John Buchan’s 1915 spy novel, add generous helpings of Monty Python, The Fast Show and ‘Allo, ‘Allo, a dash of Morecambe and Wise and a sprinkling of The Two Ronnies, and you might get something resembling this comic-parody of the famous tale. However, without the genius of director Joseph O’Malley and a cast of four superb actors playing 140 different roles, with costume changes galore, you won’t get anywhere near this absolutely wonderful adaptation. It really is the best one yet from the incredible Barn Theatre.
A packed press night audience were treated to nearly two hours of non-stop hilarity. The gags, visual humour and frantic scene and character changes bringing roars of laughter at every twist and turn of the convoluted plot. It says something about the level of audience euphoria that the corniest joke of all got the biggest belly laugh. In the immortal words of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman ‘this is far too silly’.
With so many diverse but equally believable characters appearing it is difficult to single out any one but Max Hutchinson’s portrayal of the main character, the suave and sophisticated Richard Hannay, wrongly accused of murder and on the run from the police was outstanding. Comic characters abound, the pick of the crop being the crofter John McTyte played by Jonathan Bourne, and hoteliers Mr. and Mrs McGarrigle, Bourne (again) and Tricia Adele-Turner. Colin Elmer completes the cast and plays the part of the evil Professor, among many others, to perfection.
Once again, the incredible audio-visual facilities at the Barn Theatre add an extra dimension to the production and result in an evening’s entertainment which would grace any stage in the land. No wonder the Barn Theatre won the UK Fringe Theatre of the Year 2019.
***** A well-deserved 5-star rating from us!
The 39 Steps runs from 10 July to 10 August at the Barn Theatre, Beeches Road, Cirencester, GL7 1BN. Tickets from barntheatre.org.uk and 01285 648255