Play delivered to a West End standard

Phil Brown, left, and Mark Best, with a watching Guy Steddon as Richard Hannay
Phil Brown, left, and Mark Best, with a watching Guy Steddon as Richard Hannay

A WEST END play was delivered to a West End standard by Wick Theatre Company.

The 39 Steps was performed to packed houses at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, from Wednesday to Saturday.

With a cast of only four playing a total of 139 characters, there was nowhere to hide but everyone involved played their part to perfection, both on and off stage.

With a number of costume changes required in minutes, and in some cases seconds, the wardrobe team and stage crew were certainly kept busy behind scenes.

The pace was fast but there were no stumbles, with Mark Best and Phil Brown making a brilliant duo as Clown 1 and Clown 2.

They played a whole range of characters – police, pilots, hotel owners, even a bog and a ditch at one stage!

They made a brilliant double act, with the audience in stitches on Saturday night at their antics.

Meanwhile, Guy Steddon had only one part to play, but what a part! He was Richard Hannay, John Buchan’s adventuring hero who was introduced in his novel The Thirty-Nine Steps and went on to feature in a total of five books.

You could tell he was relishing every moment and he had the balance of spy thriller and madcap comedy just right.

It was important to keep the adventure element even though the play is delivered in a slapstick style and this he achieved.

It was down to Sophie Lane to play the different women, a German spy, the young wife of a country farmer and the feisty Pamela.

Three very different roles played to perfection, particularly Pamela, as she became drawn into Hannay’s escape plans.

The success of the whole was down to some superb direction from Tony Brownings, who said he had wanted to take on the challenge since the play opened in the West End in 2006. He never thought he would get the chance as he did not expect the amateur rights to become available for decades.

“When I saw it a few years ago, I thought it was brilliant. It was exciting, clever and oh so funny with a great story running through it,” he said.

He knew it would be a challenge, including scenery that had to adapt to all sorts of situations, but he pulled it off and delivered performances worthy of a London stage.