The 39 Steps is adapted by Patrick Barlow from the classic spy movie and the John Buchan novel of 1915.
This fast paced, tastefully comedic lesson in legerdemain is light hearted theatre at its finest. The show plunges a notorious fugitive and a spellbound blonde from a London music hall into Scotland's most remote highlands.
A cast of four actors play more than 150 characters in this fast-paced tale of an ordinary man on an extraordinarily entertaining adventure, on a race against time to save Britain from a dastardly villain and his gang of spies.
The protagonist of "The 39 Steps" is Richard Hannay (Michael Lister), a timid chap who finds himself on the run for a crime he did not commit. Lister is the only actor cast in a single role, which he pulls off masterfully with just the right amount of dry humour, and a believable accent.
Playing opposite him in a range of femme fatale roles is the charming Gin Mabey.
Together they mostly serve as the straight players to the satisfyingly over-the-top antics of Marcus Blumson and Sarah Oemcke, who together command over a hundred roles ranging from a rail way conductor to maniacal super villain.
Sometimes the two play a handful of roles in a single scene and their quick-change routines and physical escapades are in themselves worth the ticket fee.
Movement and lighting are used to full effect to convey meaning on a simple set, whether the juddering of a train carriage, or breeze whipping past a police uniform. The cast and backstage crew do a great job of incorporating the set changes as just another part of the action.
With the play's comedic origins in mind, director Dylan Frewin scatters in just the right amount of slapstick. The small, heavy-duty group present a jaunty effortlessness, but it's clear that their words and movements are overseen by an intricate master plan. The result is a production with a quirky, contagious, low-budget vigour that is as fun to watch as it must have been to create.
The 39 Steps is showing at 16th Ave Theatre until the 22nd September. Tickets are available at iTicket.co.nz