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Jan 10th, 2009
If you looking for a frivolous night at the theatre in the company of a dashingly handsome adventurer complete with pencil moustache and stiff-upper-lip encountering murder, secret agents and pretty ladies there may be a something a little special for you at Criterion Theatre.
Based on John Buchan's novel and the highly regarded Hitchcock film version, The 39 Steps is adapted by Patrick Barlow and directed by Maria Aitken. The 39 Steps is performed by a stellar cast of four. The cast consist of the hero (John Hopkins), the heroine (Natalie Walter) and two guys (Stephen Crirchlow & Stephen Ventura) who play just do a fine job of playing just about everyone else ? from ladies underwear salesmen to muddy swamp to artful assasin! The quartet seems like a cast of at least a hundred. With a few props and lightning quick changes they tirelessly re-enact the myriad of characters, locations and scenes in Hitchcock's thriller. At one point Stephen Crirchlow plays three characters at once in a snazzy hat trick.
A lady two rows behind me definitely found the performance outrageously funny and exploded with laughter frequently, which did somewhat drown the other audience members involuntary chuckles, snorts and giggles but did cause some distraction.
The 39 Steps somehow manages to combine spies, shadow puppets, death-defying feats of escape and not so staggering special effects. For some reason it really works. The production is silly in the very best sense of the word and if Monty Python style humour tickles your funny bone you are in for a treat! This fast paced spoof spy thriller makes for a jolly good evening!
The 39 Steps is good old British comedy - witty, clever and creative. At times the humour is quite subtle and there is quite a lot to follow so it's not really suitable for children. However the comedy is good clean fun and does not contain any offensive or crude material.
Great night out: Guaranteed
Recommend to friends: See again: Without a doubt
Best bit: Scene involving a blonde, a pair of handcuffs and the removal of some wet stockings
The entire theatre, except the tiny box office area, is actually underground. So it does feel like at least 39 Steps to get to the stalls! The auditorium itself features the stalls, dress circle, upper circle and boxes. The stalls are unfortunately not staggered so if you're vertically challenged the view can be restricted. The columns supporting the upper levels do further limit the view from a few seats. But, negatives aside being an authentic Victorian theatre the Criterion has plenty of charm and atmosphere.
Located in the middle of London's West End in Piccadilly Circus behind the famous Eros statue you?ll find plenty of places to get a post theatre nibble or drink in near vicinity.
View our show pages for more information about The 39 Steps, Criterion Theatre.
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