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Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The 39 Steps 4th Birthday Show and Vintage Party

The Criterion Theatre was the place to be last Thursday night. I had a ball. John Buchan’s THE 39 STEPS celebrated its 4th birthday in the West End, with an evening performance and a fabulous Vintage Party afterwards.

The Criterion in Piccadilly is an epic theatre, mostly below street level (you have to walk down several flights of stairs to get to the Stalls). The 39 Steps is a classic comedy, and hilarious for all the family. With the interval it lasts 1 hour 50 minutes, not too long and leaves you wanting more. David Bark-Jones is absolutely brilliant as Richard Hannay, he reminded me of a more quirky Ewan McGregor. The very talented Dianne Pilkington is in the spotlight as the leading lady, having previously starred as Glinda in Wicked. Timothy Speyer and Jeremy Swift make up the other half of the four person cast. In 100 minutes a mere four people tackle 139 characters. The two men between them cover a huge number of parts, their quick wit makes them irresistibly funny – I particularly enjoyed watching them as the Scottish couple who owned the hotel.

The 39 Steps goes into its 5th year as the West End’s and New York’s longest-running comedy. It is an adaptation of the famous Hitchcock film, a murder mystery; the story follows the ordinary Richard Hannay on a mad chase from London to Scotland and back again. It has won numerous awards, including an Olivier in 2007 and two Tonys in 2008. It is no surprise, with jokes for all ages and a superb cast, this is a must see show.

The vintage party was just as good as the preceding production. Held in the beautiful art nouveau Greene Bar inside the Criterion Theatre, the order of the day was definitely "dress to impress". Guys and gals came in their best vintage gear and if you were embarrassingly unprepared (like me) there were clothes, scarves, gloves, hats on hand to try on and borrow for the night’s festivities. I chose a black fur cape and silk scarf, and some dainty little gloves too. Feeling a bit more the part, I wandered round picking up my tea cocktail, a stylish cupcake and had my photo taken. All in all it was a wonderful evening, Happy Birthday to THE 39 STEPS.

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