The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
March 26, 27, 28 & 29, 2014
The 39 Steps
by John Buchan adapted by Patrick Marlow, from the movie by Alfred Hitchcock and an original idea by Simon Goble and Nobby Dimon
Guy Steddon – Richard Hannay
Sophie Lane – Annabella, Margaret, Pamela
Mark Best – Clown 1
Phil Brown – Clown 2
Stage Manager – John Garland
Deputy Stage Manager – Terri Challis
Assistant Stage Managers – Caroline Woodley
Assistant Stage Managers – Graham Till
Backstage ASM – Tom Harris
The Costume Team – Margaret Pierce
The Costume Team – Cherry Briggs
The Costume Team – Judith Berrill
The Costume Team – Caroline Woodley
The Workshop Team – David Comber
The Workshop Team – Sue Chaplin
The Workshop Team – Carl Gray
The Workshop Team – Margaret Davy
The Workshop Team – John Cole
The Workshop Team – Sheila Neesham
The Workshop Team – Nigel Goldfinch
Props – Richard Ratcliffe
Lighting Design – Martin Oakley
Lighting Assistants – Mike Casey
Lighting Assistants – Leah Smith
Sound Design – Bob Ryder
Sound Operator – Brian Jones
Poster Design – Judith Berrill
Publicity – Anna Quick
Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Publicity – Margaret Pierce
Publicity – Judith Berrill
Front of House Co-ordinator – John Garland
Programme Note #1: The 39 Steps
TB wrote: ” The 39 Steps the play opened in London’s West end at the Criterion Theatre in 2006 and is running still. So far it has been seen by over 3 million people. When I saw it a few years ago I thought it was brilliant. It was exciting, clever and oh so funny with a great story running through it.
I though to myself at the time this could be a challenge for the future but then instantly dismissed the idea as it was bound to run for years and no amateur companies would get a chance for decades. How wrong I was because here we are with amateur rights. Enjoy!
It is adapted by Patrick Barlow who is an actor, comedian and playwright. His alter ego Desmond Oliver Dingle is the founder, artistic director and chief executive of the two man National Theatre of Brent. ”
Review #1: The 39 Steps
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: April 3 issue – page ?
Reviewer: Elaine Hammond
Text Header: “Play delivered to a West End standard”
A WEST END play was delivered to a West End standard by Wick Theatre Company. The 39 Steps was performed to packed houses at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, from Wednesday to Saturday. With a cast of only four playing a total of 139 characters, there was nowhere to hide but everyone involved played their part to perfection, both on and off stage.
With a number of costume changes required in minutes, and in some cases seconds, the wardrobe team and stage crew were certainly kept busy behind the scenes. The pace was fast but there were no stumbles, with Mark Best and Phil Brown making a brilliant duo as Clown 1 and Clown 2. They played a whole range of characters – police, pilots, hotel owners, even a bog and a ditch at one stage! They made a brilliant double act, with the audience in stitches on Saturday night at their antics.
Meanwhile, Guy Steddon had only one part to play, but what a part! He was Richard Hannay, John Buchan’s adventuring hero, who was introduced in his novel The Thirty-Nine Steps and went on to feature in a total of five books. You could tell he was relishing every moment and he had the balance of the spy thriller and the madcap comedy just right. It was important to keep the adventure element even though the play is delivered in slapstick style and this was achieved.
It was down to Sophie Lane to play the different women, a German spy, the young wife of a country farmer and the feisty Pamela. Three very different rôles played to perfection, particularly Pamela, as she became drawn into Hannay’s escape plans. The success of the whole was down to some superb direction from Tony Brownings, who said he had wanted to take on the challenge since the play opened in the West End in 2006. He never thought he would get the chance as he did not expect the amateur rights to become available for decades. “When I saw it a few years ago, I thought it was brilliant. It was exciting, clever and oh so funny with a great story running through it,” he said. He knew it would be a challenge, including scenery that had to adapt to all sorts of situations, but he pulled it off and delivered performances worthy of a London stage.
Review #2: The 39 Steps
Publication: Brighton Argus
Publication Data: March 27 2014
Reviewer: Barrie Jerram
This stage version of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film is a hilarious spoof in which the Wick Theatre Company play with the meticulous precision required by the piece.
The adaptation is character-driven but its construction calls for imaginative and inventive direction from Tony Brownings. The call is answered well and truly with clever visual jokes, scene changes and a well-drilled cast. However the set would benefit from being better lit – often faces are lost in gloom as actors move from front of stage.
Using a bare stage, a few props and the odd item of furniture. together with numerous costume changes, a cast of four enact the adventures of Richard Hannay as he gets drawn into a web of intrigue, espionage and murder. Guy Steddon makes a fine Hannay – with jutting chin and stiff upper lip – but also adds a touch of mild lechery.
Sophie Lane succeeds in contrasting the rôles of Pamela, an English rose, German Annabella and Scottish Margaret. Mark Best and Phil Brown supply the multitude of other rôles and do so magnificently, with change of costume and character taking place instantly.
The show is a feast of comic acting and silliness at its best.
Review #3: The 39 Steps
Publication: N.O.D.A – National Operatic and Dramatic Association
Reviewer: Phillip Hall – Regional representative for South East Region District 1 – Mid Sussex
Yet another challenge has been taken up and thoroughly well met by Wick Theatre Company. To quote the programme cover, “4 actors, 139 characters, 100 hilarious minutes”. Sounds like a good evening out? And it was!
Guy Steddon made Richard Hannay as splendidly ‘British’ as the book demands and he, quite clearly, enjoyed every minute of it. With all the confidence in the world he created a presence any actor would be proud to achieve. Mark Best and Phil Brown fulfilled their billing as ‘Clowns’ incredibly well. Their innumerable changes of costume and gender were coupled with an endless variety of accents all achieved at breakneck speed. Perhaps not quite as busy as Mark and Phil, Sophie Lane made telling contributions of a multi-national nature and succeeded in becoming indistinguishable from the male ‘Clowns’. That in itself was a considerable achievement.
Director, cast and backstage crew are to be congratulated on a quite remarkable production. A cracking pace was maintained throughout and all with a remarkable clarity of diction. All the characters, no matter how much of a caricature, were clearly drawn and delightfully over-acted. The skeleton set was extremely effective and very well managed. My first impression was that the set was somewhat under-lit but came to appreciate that this added greatly to the atmosphere of the piece. The Costume Team, one imagines, was knee deep in costumes but came through with flying colours.
This was a production on a par with Noises Off in 2010 which, strange as it may seem, was directed by Tony Brownings and starred Guy Steddon, Mark Best and Sophie Lane. Well done Phil Brown! – We like the company you keep!
Comment #1: The 39 Steps
Author: Janet Davis of Rustington
I think it was one of the best plays we have seen and the acting was superb, it must have been so difficult to get such perfection.”