Safeena Ladha, left, Eugene McCoy, Tom Byrne and Maddie Rice. Picture: Mark Senior

The 39 Steps

Malvern Theatres


We all love an Alfred Hitchcock thriller, but this version of The 39 steps hilariously adapted for the stage by Patrick Barlow will have you clutching your sides!.

This smash hit Olivier and Tony Award winning comedy has played in 39 different countries across the globe, delighting over three million people worldwide.

We follow the adventures of the handsome hero Richard Hannay, played admirably by Tom Byrne as he encounters bloody murders, double crosses secret agents, and, of course, lures devastatingly beautiful women.

After living the relatively dull life of an English gentleman, to his amazement when on vacation in London he accidentally becomes embroiled with an international spy ring related to the “39 steps” and meets Anabella Smitd, played by Safeena Ladha, who is killed in his apartment.

As it is assumed that he is the murderer he must elude the police who are hunting him. He also has to stop Professor Jordan with half a finger missing from sending secrets out of the country. On his travels he meets Margaret and finally Pamela also played by Safeena Ladha.

The play unfolds hilariously as she finds herself handcuffed to Hannay, thus becoming an unwilling accomplice. At this point she hates him and wants to get away from him assuming him to be a brutal murderer. She certainly does not want to sleep in the same bed as him, but as time passes she reluctantly finds herself irresistibly drawn to him, especially when she discovers that he didn’t commit the murder.

Eugene McCoy and Maddie Rice play all the other characters, from police officers and secret agents to hotel hosts, milkman, store keepers and many others. They also play the two clowns and Mr Memory who open and close the show at the London Palladium. Jacob Daniels and Hannah Parker are understudies.

There is terrific use of physical theatre, mime slick character changes and even a shadow puppet sequence as these four stunningly versatile and talented actors take us on a fantastical journey. Hannay and Pamela must stop this dangerous organisation of spies that collects information on behalf of the secret service named.

It is Mr Memory who finally divulges the secret of the 39 Steps to Hannay with his dying breath.

This is a superb example of slick fast paced teamwork by all involved as the play moves seamlessly to a happy ending, with four actors playing 139 characters in 100 hours.

The play runs, at speed, to 18-05-24

Jane Lush


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