The time-honoured spy classic, the 39 Steps, immortalised by Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 classic film of the same name, gets a new lease of life at the Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne.
Illuminating the stage is a cast of just four, all of whom, with the exception of the impeccably cast lead Oliver Mellor (Coronation Street), play a revolving cast of comic characters, often transforming mid-scene to raucous comic effect.
While Phil Stewart and Jon Monie (billed as Man 1 and Man 2 respectively) flow seamlessly between highland hoteliers, bumbling inspectors and occasionally inanimate objects, it is left to the capable hands of Anna Clark to hold down the array of female characters who drop in and out of this slick and mesmering spy thriller.
The only disappointment, which is no reflection on the quality of the production, which presents such gripping fare that the performers were subjected to five minutes continuous applause at the close of the Tuesday night showing, is the occasional empty seats in the stalls.
What is often considered the genesis of the spy thriller on screen is given a bold comic twist that is fresh, enlivening, inventive and worth every penny. The show closes on the seventeenth and I cannot recommend it highly enough.