John Buchan’s exciting thriller was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935. The comedy adaptation of The 39 Steps transferred to the West End’s Criterion Theatre after a popular run at the Tricycle Theatre.
John Buchan, the writer of The Thirty Nine Steps, born in Scotland on 26th August, 1875. Buchan’s books include the novel Witch Wood, The Wind in the Portico and The Green Wildebeest. In 1915, Buchan published his most famous book The Thirty Nine Steps. This thriller is set just before the outbreak of the World War One. It features the hero and rather dashing Richard Hannay. It is said that Hannay was based on a friend of Buchan’s from his days in South Africa, Edmund Ironside.
The 39 Steps is the first of five novels by Buchan which has Richard Hannay as the main character. He has a habit of getting himself out of awkward situations. The book inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film of the same name.
Did you know? Fascinating Facts!
Robert Donat played the part of Richard Hannay and Madeleine Carroll played Pamela in The 39 Steps in 1935. The actual 39 steps are located at North Foreland, not far from Broadstairs on the Isle of Thanet, and are a tunnelled stairway leading down to the beach from a privately owned estate. The author was recuperating from an illness, and was staying in a villa in the town during 1914.
The 39 Steps: Hitchcock meets hilarious in this madcap stage adaptation of the classic movie by the Master of Suspense. John Buchan’s gripping whodunnit – memorably filmed by Hitchcock in 1935 – has at last been thrillingly adapted for the stage by Patrick Barlow.
This astonishing theatrical tour-de-force is performed by just four actors essaying 139 roles, but nothing has been cut from this spectacularly silly, side-splitting version of Britain’s most spellbinding thriller. Legendary scenes include the chase on the Flying Scotsman, the escape on the Forth Bridge, the first theatrical bi-plane crash ever staged and the death-defying finale at the London Palladium.
Interview with Andrew Alexander (who starred as Richard Hannay)
How would you describe your character?
Richard Hannay is the original British Spy Hero, James Bond with a Pipe. But he is completely and utterly hopeless with women; British stiff upper lip and all that. Not too good at expressing the old feelings but pretty bloody special at saving the world, what?
There are 4 cast members performing 139 characters in the comedy, with a lot of fast action taking place. What is it like being part of this brilliant comedy? Honestly it’s a joy. I feel very lucky to be working with a superb cast and to be playing the lead in a Tony and Olivier Award winning West End Play. It’s the dream.
Piccadilly Circus, London, SW1Y 4XA
Evenings: Monday to Saturday 8.00pm
Matinees: Wednesday 3.00pm and Saturday 4.00pm
Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Age Restrictions: Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted.
The 39 Steps closed on Saturday 5th September 2015 at The Criterion Theatre