Previewed 14 September 2006, Opened 20 September 2006, Closed 5 September 2015 at the Criterion Theatre in London
Adapted for the stage from John Buchan's novel and Alfred Hitchcock's classic film, the long-running award-winning comedy The 39 Steps in London at the Criterion Theatre for it's amazing eighth year.
John Buchan's The 39 Steps adapted for the stage by Patrick Barlow from an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon. They said it was unstageable! But John Buchan's gripping whodunnit - memorably filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935 - has, at last, been thrillingly adapted for the stage. WINNER! BEST NEW COMEDY! Olivier Awards 2007.
This sensational brand new stage version is performed by just four actors playing a minimum of 150 roles and is guaranteed to contain not only comedy and thrills galore, but also every single legendary scene from the award-winning movie - including the chase on the Flying Scotsman, the escape on the Forth Bridge, the first theatrical bi-plane crash ever staged and the sensational death-defying finale in the London Palladium! Besides many other favourite and cinematic moment, including the memorable and controversial 'stockings and suspenders' scene and many more. This production is directed by Maria Aitken with designs by Peter McKintosh and comes into London's West End following a hugely successful sell-out season at The Tricycle Theatre in North West London.
When this production opened in London's West End at the Criterion Theatre Sheridan Morley in the Daily Express highlighted that "the trick, and the wonder, of Maria Aitken's hugely inventive staging, is that her four actors play not just all the characters in the movie but also the bridges, trains and special effects. At the same time a celebration and a parody, this 39 Steps manages to recapture a whole lost world of black and white movie thrillers and English upper-class inanity." In the Guardian Brian Logan thought that "it's very easy to enjoy the creaky jokes, quick costume changes and lo-fi coups de theatre," concluding that "the thrills may be meagre in this murder mystery, but the theatrical tomfoolery is to die for." When this same production was seen at the Tricycle Theatre prior to it's transfer to the West End, Paul Taylor in the Independent said that "it's precisely the lunacy of trying to translate a roving, suspenseful chase caper to the stage that seems to have appealed to the makers of this show, which is given a fast- paced, resourceful and attractively tongue-in-cheek production by Maria Aitken .... It is, without doubt, drolly ingenious." Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph wrote: "Highly recommended is Patrick Barlow's delightful spoof of both John Buchan's classic novel The 39 Steps and Hitchcock's famous 1935 film version," adding that "Maria Aitken directs with a light and inventive touch" for "a dizzyingly entertaining show that never outstays its welcome." In the Financial Times Sarah Hemming wrote that "Patrick Barlow's affectionately tongue-in-cheek version... is also daft and drolly amusing," and "slips down as agreeably as one of Richard Hannay's whisky and sodas."
"This clever and witty adaptation by Patrick Barlow, which owes most to Hitchcock's 1935 film, takes our affection for the story and characters for granted. The result is a hugely entertaining, escapist two hours that, under Maria Aitken's direction, manages to have its fun without resorting to camp... All in all, thoroughly ripping." The Sunday Times
"A joyful version of The Thirty-Nine Steps (the Hitchcock film rather than the original Buchan novel)... while it's played for laughs, they are subtly achieved, often by no more than a slight speeding up or slowing down of the original lines... The production also generates real atmosphere, and as Hannay (running on the spot) sets off for St Pancras station through swirling dry ice, and with the sound effect of a steam engine in the background, your heart is racing." The Sunday Telegraph
"Many will recall the 1935 Hitchcock film starring Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll, which as a spy thriller today seems quaint and camp. But that doesn't explain this excessive spoof of the classic tale of the man on the run in Scotland after a glamorous spy is murdered in his London flat. Maria Aitken's production starring Catherine McCormack is now even more of a send-up than it was when it was first staged by Fiona Buffini last year at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. That production struck a delicate balance mixing suspense and comedy. But since then, it's been meddled with by Patrick Barlow from The National Theatre of Brent and rendered all too coarse. With Charles Edwards playing the hero, Richard Hannay, for laughs, the whole yarn is reduced to burlesque... Aitken's production also misses the full impact of the exuberant theatricality which sends props rolling on and off on castors, creates close-ups with torches and enacts an airborne highland chase with epic shadow play. Where these were ingenious storytelling devices in the original production, here they are little more than a bag of tricks. You'd be better off renting Hitchcock's film." The Mail on Sunday
The 39 Steps in London at the Criterion Theatre previewed from 14 September 2006, opened on 20 September 2006 and closed on 5 September 2015.