39 Steps at Horsham

James Etheridge.

James Etheridge.

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Classic espionage and the thrill of the chase make The Capitol in Horsham the place to be this week.

John Buchan’s The 39 Steps - so famously a film starring Robert Donat and directed by Alfred Hitchcock - is brought to the stage by Hit & Run Theatre Co.

The suspenseful-romantic-comedy, based on the 1935 movie, plays in the Studio at The Capitol until tomorrow February 22-25.

Show spokeswoman Sarah Hooper-Ridsdale said: “Six actors play over 100 characters in this Tony-winner that kept London West End rollicking for the past five years. It is part juicy spy novel, part Monty Python, and it preserves the brilliance originally created by the master of suspense.

“James Etheridge plays our suave hero Richard Hannay who learns from a beautiful spy about a plot of international espionage. The woman is killed in Hannay’s flat and he suddenly finds himself caught up in a race from London to Scotland in hopes of stopping military secrets from being smuggled out of the country.

“As he searches for the secret of The 39 Steps, he is doggedly pursued by the police who believe he is a murderer. The remaining multitude of characters (spies, females, policemen, inn keepers, travelling salesmen, etc) are played by John Barnett, Michael Gattrell, Will Hackett, Jon Hope, Kevin Sharp and Sue Sherwin.”

Leading the artistic team is director Sue Harrington who says the play is much like a rollercoaster full of twists and turns and just plain delightful fun.

“The play remains very close to the film, particularly in terms of its frenetic timing. But putting the movie - a farce-like whirlwind adventure - on stage requires ingenious theatrical devices to instantly go from a chase scene on a train, to a plane crash, transform into a luxurious Scottish manor, then to a London flat, or suddenly become The London Palladium.

“The 39 Steps was one of a dozen motion pictures Alfred Hitchcock made in England before going to America, and though the novel has been adapted for the screen nearly a half a dozen times, Hitchcock’s is considered to be the finest to date.”