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The 39 Steps

by John Buchan and Patrick Barlow

"A fast paced, witty and exuberant celebration of all that is great about theatre. Playing Up is in the very safe hands of director Sophie Brooks who keeps the pace hurtling along with an inventive set, many props and a cast who are a joy to watch. This is tremendous fun and well worth grabbing a ticket before they are all sold..."
Theatre Bath

About the play

The 39 Steps is a comic melodrama based on the 1915 novel by John Buchan which has seen a number of film versions, perhaps the most famous being Alfred Hitchcock’s in 1935. The original concept and production of a four-actor version of the story was by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon and it was this original that Patrick Barlow subsequently adapted in 2005.

The Thirty-Nine Steps is an adventure novel by the Scottish author John Buchan. It first appeared as a serial in Blackwood’s Magazine in August and September 1915 before being published in book form in October that year. It was the first of five novels featuring Richard Hannay, an all-action hero with a stiff upper lip and a miraculous knack for getting himself out of sticky situations.


The story is set in the lead-up to the First World War and centres on Hannay who, when an undercover British spy is killed in his flat, is himself accused of murder and caught up in a deadly conspiracy which threatens not only his life, but the safety of the nation. Pursued by spies and the police, he reluctantly joins forces with a feisty suffragette as he attempts to uncover the truth and save Great Britain from invasion.


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