39 steps

‘The 39 Steps’ // Toowoomba Repertory Theatre

In the quaint Toowoomba Repertory Theatre, beside the timeless Queen’s Park, a small group of performers, larger than life, presented the classic parody spy thriller, ‘The 39 Steps’.

Beginning as a 1915 novel by John Buchan, the play version was adapted by Patrick Barlow, and the film rendition by the iconic Alfred Hitchcock. Having its premier in 1996, ‘The 39 Steps’ earned itself both an Olivier Award and the What’s On Stage Award for Comedy in 2007.

Set design included a range of agile props and pieces, with trunks that morphed into seats, ladders that transformed into bridges, and a window that hinted at a film set. The use of the classic house curtain to split scenes and acts, paired with the visibility of technical and architectural elements of the theatre beyond the set, created a striking juxtaposition that again gave the suggestion of an old-timey movie.

Lighting and sound design, by Bob Horstman and Mike Taylor respectively, worked harmoniously to add to the fun and eccentric nature of parody theatre. ‘The 39 Steps’ requires no subtly, so the explicit use of spots, quirky sound effects and black outs was very effective. Costume designs by Beverly Irwin-Taylor were fitting, and Richard Hannay’s attire was particularly charming.

Direction by Elyse Armstrong employed a good use of the stage’s depth, fourth wall breaks and some neat slapstick moments. Her direction of the clown duo, paired with their own talents, made for some stomach-laugh-worthy choreography.

The clown duo, performed by Tobias Paull and Mark Ritchie, worked extremely well together in their myriad of sub-characters. While Paull leaned more into body characterisations, Ritchie presented some humorous accent and vocal choices. They did well to raise the laughter without pulling focus from the plot.

Pamela Edwards was strong as Hannay’s Scottish love interest and delivered a very believable Russian accent early in the piece.

New to the theatre stage – no one would know – Josh Reyes filled the leading role of Richard Hannay with all of the charm and presence of a James Dean or Marlon Brando type. Reyes commanded each scene with believability and the perfect amount of humour to carry the show.

Toowoomba Repertory Theatre’s ‘The 39 Steps’, had all elements of production in alignment to create a nostalgic performance for fans of Hollywood’s golden era. A classic play and a great rendition.

‘The 39 Steps’ played until May 11 at Toowoomba Repertory Theatre. For more information visit their website.

Related Articles