|The 39 Steps Review
by Graeme Cumming
As an avid reader, I discovered The Thirty-Nine Steps as a teenager and have read it at least twice since, so it’s fair to say I’m a fan.
Most film adaptations haven’t lived up to the source material, though, so you’d think a stage adaptation
based on the Hitchcock movie would be a disappointment. But Retford Little Theatre’s current
production, The 39 Steps, pokes fun at Hitchcock and the whole genre.
Much of the humour comes from the way it’s staged. The elaborate sets the Little Theatre has a
reputation for are not in evidence.
But, as the play develops, it becomes apparent that the range of scenes require the cast and crew to
bring a variety of props on quite openly, transforming the stage to - among other things - a theatre,
railway carriage, hotel room and even the Forth Bridge.
The lighting and sound effects are very effective, but it’s fair to say you’ll need your imagination as well -
which only adds to the fun.
The inclusion of the crew in key scenes enhances some of the more surreal aspects, yet only serves to
underline the humour. I won’t give examples because laughter is often triggered by surprise.
Of course, the cast are crucial, especially with three of the four actors playing multiple characters
(sometimes simultaneously). Stereotypes and caricatures joyfully abound.
Robert Warburton plays the hero with a stiff upper lip beneath a pencil moustache. Donnamarie Stamp
plays all three key female parts - including a foreign spy and the love interest. But Barry Nicholls and
Julian Roberts steal the show, pulling together a range of other characters of both sexes, bringingin
elements of Monty Python, farce and even pantomime.
It’s also fair to say that, on opening night, I wasn’t the only one who was entertained. The rest of the
audience seemed to appreciate it just as much.
A great spoof, well-produced, staged, choreographed and designed, I can highly recommend this play.
It’s a great way to forget your troubles for a couple of hours. A terrific ending to the Little Theatre’s
Our Current Production
The 39 Steps
by Patrick Barlow and John Buchan
15th May to
23rd May 2015, 7:30pm
Mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python and you have
The 39 Steps, in which a man with a boring life meets a woman with a thick accent who says she's a spy
Click here for ticket details.
Founded in 1941, Retford Little Theatre is an amateur
drama group, housed in its own purpose-built theatre, generously provided by
Bassetlaw District Council.
Now in its 74th season, RLT continues to go from strength
to strength, attracting a membership of over 800 each
and playing to full houses at most performances.
The proscenium auditorium can readily be adapted to end-
or theatre-in-the-round formats, giving the
theatre enviable versatility.
Five plays are presented each season (from September
May) with extras in the form of platform productions,
visiting companies, social events and more.
New for the 74th Season: There will be a British Sign Language Interpreted performance on the 1st Saturday evening of each play. Interpreter Sarah Cox.
Retford Little Theatre can be contacted by telephone on
01777 702002 but should
your call go unanswered,
you can email us at
We look forward to welcoming you soon.