by Patrick Barlow
19:00 at the West Side Theatre
"The 39 Steps" is a melodrama adapted from the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock. The original concept and production of a four-actor version of the story was by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon. Patrick Barlow rewrote this adaptation in 2005.
The plot remains the same as in the film. Richard Hannay, a debonair 37-year-old Canadian bachelor in London, is bored one evening and goes out to the theater alone. A mysterious woman in black, Annabella Schmidt, fires a gun in the middle of a memory-artist's act and asks for Richard's help. "Let me hide in your flat", she begs, presumably because he is a debonair 37-year-old bachelor without a date. She tells him about the spies pursuing her and hints at weaponry-related secrets that could threaten Britain's security. Annabella is murdered in the night, and Richard must go on the run to find the leader of the spy ring and clear himself of any connection with Annabella's death. During his travels, Richard encounters an extraordinary number of colorful people, including a milkman, a newsboy, a cleaning woman, a train conductor, theater performers, politicians, secret agents, husband-and-wife Scottish hoteliers, traveling lingerie salesmen and a wide variety of law enforcement officials.
The play's concept calls for the entirety of the play to be performed with a cast of only four (1 woman and 3 men), but in our vision we could expand to a cast of 6 people (2 women and 4 men). One actor plays the hero, Richard Hannay, an actress (or 2 actresses) plays the three women with whom he has romantic entanglements, and two (or 3) other actors play every other character in the show: heroes, villains, men, women, children and even the occasional inanimate object. In both cases, this will require lightning fast quick-changes and occasionally for them to play multiple characters at once.
Due to the quantity and the frequency of the scene changes, the set will have to be quite basic, leaving most of the work to the imagination of the audience.
Our idea is to make the set very simple but effective, and with the help of Q-branch to make it quite remarkable as well.