Comic take on classic thriller
The 39 Steps, Alsager Civic Centre
IF YOU like your comedy fast, furious and funny, Alsager Community Theatre's latest production fits the bill.
But you'll have to be quick, because this is no black and white, stiff upper lip 1940s spy thriller, but a gloriously technicolored explosion of action and comedy.
From the moment the lights go up and Philip Jackson's sublime Richard Hannay strides onto the stage, the action thunders along at a pace which would leave the Flying Scotsman trailing in its wake.
Based on John Buchan's original ripping yarn and Hitchcock's film, Patrick Barlow's adaptation gives a new twist to the story of a decent chap, Hannay, who accidentally becomes embroiled in a plot to overthrow the country after a glamorous spy he has befriended is murdered in his flat.
With plenty of cinematic references, from Whisky Galore to Brief Encounter (with the Keystone Kops thrown in), director Diana Lane ensures that this part affectionate homage, part spoof works on two levels.
It remains faithful to the original story, but embraces the humorous aspect of so few actors trying to keep up with the plot.
By setting the play in the 'round', the director utilises the whole stage area, ensuring that there isn't a bad seat in the house, and places the audience in the thick of the action as the actors fly past.
The uniformly strong and talented cast provide a masterclass in the technique and skill required to perform this totally bonkers form of comedy, without ever toppling into silliness, as they tackle a staggering number of parts and numerous set changes as the locations switch from a steam train to the Forth Bridge.
Award winning group ACT has a justifiably great reputation for creating quality drama and The 39 Steps in no way disappoints.
The show runs until Saturday. Tickets are £8 from Alsager Library. For information call 01260 276165.