Who would have thought it possible to produce a stage version of John Buchan’s classic spy thriller, maintain all the suspense and melodrama whilst having it performed by just four actors?
Playwright Patrick Barlow has certainly succeeded with his interpretation of both the original story and Hitchcock’s 1935 film version, providing audiences with a gripping, fast paced drama whilst at the same time turning it into a tongue-in-cheek comedy version.
The play begins with the suave Richard Hannay who, when contemplating his dull life, decides to cheer himself up with a trip to the theatre.
There he meets glamorous spy Annabella Schmidt, who is later found dead in his flat. Accused of her murder, Hannay goes on the run to Scotland whilst attempting to prove his innocence and alerting the authorities to the spy conspiracy.
Plenty of smoke and wind, plus some ingenious props - watch out for the steam train ploughing across the stage - create tension but also provide great comedy throughout.
There is also superb characterisation from Tony Bell and Gary Mackay who take on the majority of the 139 roles - from underwear salesman to police and even inanimate objects - providing the rough terrain Hannay finds himself crossing with love interest Pamela, which he meets along the way.
Charlotte Peters is excellent as Schmidt, Pamela and farmer’s wife Margaret and Hannay is superbly played by Richard Ede, who is convincing as a novice James Bond - being desirable to all women whilst maintaining an element of calm as he is chased across the Scottish countryside. Even when dangling off the Forth Bridge, Hannay is unflappable.
Entertaining, energetic and extremely funny.
Runs until April 27