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Review: The 39 Steps, Westacre Theatre

Intrigue and skulduggery feature prominently in The Westacre Theatre Company’s current outstanding production of an adaptation of John Buchan’s spy-thriller: The 39 Steps (and the 1953 Hitchcock film), in a version by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon rewritten by Actor and Writer Patrick Barlow.

Exceptional performances by the small cast enhanced this fast moving, effectively stylised and almost surrealistic production where allusions to past films and acting styles were prominent. Humour and tongue-in-cheek satire were much in evidence!

Rachael Cummins, Charlie Hotson. (2645432)
Rachael Cummins, Charlie Hotson. (2645432)

The production often required quick changes by cast members and they sometimes had to play multiple characters at once; these demands were discharged with aplomb by Charlie Hobson who played the show’s hero, Richard Hannay, Rachael Cummins, the leading lady, who among other parts played Annabella Schmidt, and David Connor and Steve Rimmer who played several other parts with skill and panache.Steve played the Villain of the piece: Professor Jordan.

Issy Huckle was Mr. Memory ( a crucial character in the story), and I thought the occasional interplay between stage hands and cast worked well.

Stephen Rimmer, David Connor (2645434)
Stephen Rimmer, David Connor (2645434)

Some of the scenery and props were fairly basic but the strength of the actors characterisation and the fast pace of the show rendered that small gripe pretty unimportant!

The use of special effects and old film was cleverly and effectively done and the overall first rate production was designed and directed by Andy Naylor.

Themes in the show, (well brought out), were of love, loyalty, universal brotherhood and of keeping calm and carrying on when things get tough. I’m sure that’s how things will continue at Westacre Theatre, where visitors are always made welcome, as I was by cast and staff. I look for to ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ in August!

Andy Tyler

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