The 39 Steps: Theatre Royal Bath
The 39 Steps
Theatre Royal Bath
This 21st century version of John Buchan's 1915 novel has been one of the great theatrical experiences of the new millennium.
We last saw this multi-award-winning production in Bath five years ago and it is bright, innovative and funny as it was then – and probably more so.
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For sheer magical entertainment you won't do better.
Once again it is astonishing, when we have seen a cast of what seemed like dozens of different people during the course of the evening, just four people finally come back on stage to take a bow.
Patrick Barlow's production is a classic example of what you can do with a suitcase full of different hats, a smoke machine, a few boxes and four first class actors.
They allow us to watch as people escape from the police across the top of a fast moving train, hang suspended from a bridge over a raging river and treck handcuffed across boggy moorland in the mist.
But although The 39 Steps is very funny, it is still at heart an action story and we are moved through the evening at a hurtling pace from the moment Richard Hannay finds a strange girl in his room to the final moment when . . . well, better not to give the game away.
Although the play follows the novel pretty closely the evening also borrows quite a lot from Alfred Hitchcock's film version of the story.
If you can still get a ticket you won't have wasted your money. Let's hope it is not another five years before we see the show back again.