1812 Theatre Company: The 39 Steps

Adapted by Patrick Barlow from John Buchan’s novel and Alfred Hitchcock’s film.

Directed by David Powley.

A man, bored with life, meets a woman who says she’s a spy and falls into his arms with a knife in her back. Pursued by the police who want him for killing her, and by a mysterious spy-ring who want to kill him, he flees for his life to Scotland in a desperate dash to foil a dastardly anti-British plot. A hilarious blend of zany characters and impossible situations, The 39 Steps offers an evening of pure pleasure!


Reviews from Lady Lumley's work experience students


The 39 Steps Review By Ellie Jackson


The 39 steps… to what?

The play, by the 1812 Theatre Company and performed at the Helmsley Arts Centre, is enjoyable, funny and mysterious.  Based upon a man accused falsely of murder and then later trying to prevent war, the themes throughout are dark but they are contrasted by a light-hearted comedic atmosphere. With a set that the actors interact with directly and that is moved by an ensemble so energetic, it appears alive; the audience are transported to a world of Physical Theatre. The lighting and music are cleverly integrated in a way that adds again to the comedic atmosphere and the actors directly react to the music, almost obeying the sound. One of the key successes of this play is the multi-rolling used. Clear, innovative and interesting, the actors use costume, voice and the lighting to distinguish between characters. An adaptation of chair duets provided an amusing way to change between multiple characters and the repetition and rhythm of said chair duet added further to the comedy. Overall, the play was well directed and produced, with seamless scene transitions and it was obvious that the actor were well rehearsed.

In my opinion, the most impressive element of the play was the use of multi-rolling, especially during the chair duets. The music used also added to the effect and made it very entertaining. I also enjoyed the interactive set which moved around and seemed to have ‘favourite people’ almost who it would behave correctly with. With a fast-moving pace and entertaining characters, my attention was kept throughout the play.

Ellie Jackson


The 39 steps Review by Gracie McNally.

A play by the 1812 Theatre Company, about a man falsely accused of murder and how he tries to escape.

Although it was about a serious topic, light-hearted humour was added to the play to make it more enjoyable for the audience, however there were also serious scenes which contrasted with this and worked really well. Clever techniques such as physical theatre were used to make the play more abstract such as the ensemble moving doors and windows towards the actors, and also the actors interacting with set as if it’s ‘human’. For example, at one point in the play, one of the actors took the window from the ensemble and climbed through it. All this was shown cleverly along with music to show that the set was almost ‘dancing’. Music was also included to almost lead the characters, for example when the man was running away, he only ran when the music played as if he was obeying it showing that the music is an important part of the play.  Multi-rolling worked really well as they used costume, lighting, a change of accents, and to add humour they used chair duets to show the change in characters. Their transitions between roles flowed and it was shown very clearly aswell.

In my opinion, the set moving around the stage was a clever way to show scene changes and it was enjoyable to watch. Also, the use of multi-rolling was impressive as it looked like it had been rehearsed very well and the way the character’s interpreted it was very entertaining. I think the directing was good as the play drew my attention and it was very fast pace throughout, also the way it was performed and staged was original and interesting and I didn’t lose interest at any point in the play.


Gracie McNally

This is a 1812 Theatre Company performance

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