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Theatre Review: The 39 Steps ****

Joy Watters reviews 'a jolly night out'.

The Rep’s community show is a little gem: just an hour long (excluding interval), it’s a charmingly polished piece of entertainment. John Buchan wrote his tale of adventure at the beginning of the Great War at breakneck speed and the piece similarly dashes along.

The novel has been adapted for the stage in several forms; here it is a live radio play, written by Joe Landry, set in the 1930s. A quintet of the Rep’s seasoned actors takes on the host of roles with brio.

Director Irene McDougall beautifully combines the elements of the broadcast, the actors standing to speak in the BBC microphones, with visual humorous touches for the audience.

Our hero is Richard Hannay (Ewan Donald), back from Africa to land in an international espionage plot against Britain. Framed for murder, he travels all over the country to bring the baddies to book.

Donald’s Hannay is right on the money: an insouciant cove with a passion for adventure. Barrie Hunter, Billy Mack, Ann Louise Ross and Emily Winter shine as well in their various roles, all splendidly delivered from RP Southerners to couthy Highlanders.

The cast is responsible for the sound effects, from sheep to feet crunching down gravel drives; seeing how they do it contributes to the fun. All in all, it’s a jolly night out.

The tour continues: Kirriemuir Town Hall (Tuesday, June 19th), Forfar Reid Hall (Wednesday, June 20th), Maxwell Centre, Carnegie Street (Thursday, June 21st), Douglas Community Centre (Friday, June 22nd) and Eassie and Nevay Hall (Saturday, June 23rd).

Tags: theatre

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