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Review - The 39 Steps: fast furious fun

Above: Liz Buchanan and Hugh Parker. Below right: Bryan Probets.

The 39 Steps

Adapted by Patrick Barlow from the movie by Alfred Hitchcock and the novel by John Buchan

Queensland Theatre in association with State Theatre Company South Australia.

Directed by Jon Halpin

Cremorne Theatre

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank


Season continues until March 28. Running time: two hours and 15 minutes, including a 20 minute interval. Bookings: or 136 246

Brisbane’s Queensland Theatre is putting the emphasis on fast furious fun at the Cremorne Theatre as the comic adaptation of John Buchan’s novel and Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The 39 Steps, woos capacity audiences.

The Master of Suspense – Alfred Hitchcock – brought John Buchan’s much loved 1915 Boys’ Own story to the big screen in 1935, but it’s a stage version, featuring four actors playing more than 100 characters, that’s had the world laughing for the past dozen years or more.

Patrick Barlow’s very British stiff upper lip period comedy has been a crowd pleaser just about everywhere, including the West End and Broadway, and in 2012 made him the most performed playwright in America.

This remarkably versatile spy yarn works surprisingly well as a comic caper with QT actors Hugh Parker, Liz Buchanan, Leon Cain and Bryan Probets creating some mind boggling routines under the direction of Jon Halpin.

The actor’s timing is spot on and Barlow’s script takes its audience just far away from the original versions to let everyone know it is all a rollicking joke.

The story of falsely accused Canadian ex-pat, Richard Hannay (Parker is the only player with a single role), who finds himself on the run from gangsters, spies and the police, rattles along at a frantic pace with the minimum of sets and props.

Along the way there’s lot’s references to Hitchcock classics such as Rear Window and North by North West, but it’s the performances which keep the action alive.

This show is a must see antidote to all the miseries swamping our world although it might be difficult grabbing a ticket or two. Still give it a try – it’s worth it.

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