Play review by Julia Pattison: The 39 Steps at Theatre @ 41 Monkgate, York

Play: The 39 Steps

All credit to the company and @41 Monkgate for the cabaret-style set upAll credit to the Company and @41 Monkgate for the cabaret-style set up. Photo by John Saunders.
All credit to the company and @41 Monkgate for the cabaret-style set upAll credit to the Company and @41 Monkgate for the cabaret-style set up. Photo by John Saunders.

Venue: Theatre @ 41 Monkgate, York

Review by: Julia Pattison

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Back in summer 2021 Harri Marshall was invited back for a second time to direct a play for York Settlement Community Players (YSCP).

After a time of bleak uncertainty for the arts YSCP chose The 39 Steps for their Autumn production; an inspired choice, with the cast and audience alike on the opening night sharing a spiffing time.

Based on John Buchan and Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, adapted by Patrick Barlow (from an original concept by Nobby Dimon and Simon Corble), and directed by Harri Marshall, this was a wonderfully fast paced, hilarious show.

Aran MacRae was delightful in his role of dashing hero Richard Hannay, complete with stiff upper lip, British gung-ho and pencil moustache.

Sanna Buck made a dramatic debut performance in York, ably taking on three very contrasting characters, Annabella Schmidt, Pamela and Margaret, the three women in Hannay’s life.

The opening death scene was brilliantly portrayed and included pure slapstick as Hannay had to extricate himself from his trapped position on the sofa chair.

Daniel Boyle, Andrew Isherwood, Matthew Lomax, Jim Paterson, Matt Pattison, and Stephen Wright all played a myriad of other roles with breath taking speed and dexterity, much to the delight of the audience.

The famous spy story in which adventurer Richard Hannay finds himself caught in a web of intrigue, disguises and deceptions was retold with great style and panache by the cast, with scene changes made into an art form; cars, train carriages, beds, bridges and planes seemed to appear like magic.

The plane pursuit scene was just one of many highlights.

All credit to the company and @41 Monkgate for the cabaret-style set up, creating a relaxed atmosphere, with the performers able to interact and play with the space; all very carefully considered, and thoughtful too with Covid safety.

There were nods to various Hitchcock and Bond films, and a sense of fun and mischief throughout the show. Just loved the surprise 20s ensemble dance number ending the first half!

A ripping show, guaranteed to put a smile on your face – just the tonic we all needed.