ocelot-logoIf you’re lucky enough to live in Swindon, Salisbury, Newbury, Reading or Oxford then pick up an issue of the Ocelot and read my new theatre column. If not, don’t worry, you can read it here. It’s all about what Swindon’s TS Theatre Productions are up to, so check it out!

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The 39 Steps

39Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film is given an imaginative reinventing in this comic stage production. The story follows the hapless Richard Hannay (Richard Ede) as he accidently discovers a secrete spy ring and is pursued around Scotland whilst trying to find out the truth. Like any good hero, he sets about getting the girl and saving the day while he’s at it. Richard Hannay feels like he’s straight out of a 1930s film, complete with three piece suit and pencil moustache. Ede’s over the top performance adds to the fun absurdity of the whole production.

The highlight of the show was its imaginative use of the set. Rather than being confined by the limitations of telling a story on stage, Maria Aitken’s direction makes use of the props to their full comic potential. Particularly funny is the door on wheels that is slid around the stage to represent every internal and external door in the whole production.

A lot of the comedy comes from playing with the idea of what can be done on stage.  The two actors, Tony Bell and Gary Mackay, play a host of characters in hilarious role swapping, gender swapping mayhem. At times it seems difficult to comprehend that there is only a cast of 4 people.

When there are not props sliding around the stage or actors engaging in split second costume changes, the atmosphere is created by cardboard cut-out shadows puppets and conspicuously badly timed smoke machines.

The frantic pace of the show keeps the audience on their toes from beginning to end. There is something wonderfully British about the wacky, over the top characters and the unlikely situations that they find themselves in.