I have had two (relatively) recent trips to the theatre. First up was a belated visit to the West End to catch up with the award-winning production of The 39 Steps based on the Hitchcock film version rather than the Buchan book version.

   Four actors (strictly three actors and an actress) take on a variety of roles (strictly one actor is Richard Hannay and the others take multiple roles), and the film is recreated rather hammily and for laughs but quite accurately under the circumstances.

   It was a marvelous production and I enjoyed it thoroughly, laughing aloud at times (and I am only rarely a laughing aloud type of person). The production was very similar to the three-man version of The Hound of the Baskervilles which I saw last year but which this production actually preceded (and so should probably take more credit).

   I can heartily recommend it any of you who get a chance to see it.

   The second play I got to see is And Then There Were None, the third from the Agatha Christie Theatre Company. The company tours each year with a new production — last year was The Unexpected Guest, which I saw, and two years ago they did The Hollow which I missed.

And Then There Were None

   Anyway I caught up with And Then There Were None in Norwich and thoroughly enjoyed it. There’s no point my rehashing the plot, but if you are familiar with it you might like to know that the ending of the book was restored, rather than the different ending that Agatha Christie gave to her play version.

   Suffice to say I enjoyed it all. The cast was made up of reasonably well known from television actors including Gerald Harper (bast known as Adam Adamant from the ’60s and Hadleigh from the ’70s), Peter Byrne (best known as Dixon of Dock Green’s son-in-law from the ’50s) and Alex Ferns (best known from Eastenders in the ’00s).

   Throw in Denis Lill who was Inspector Bradstreet in Granada’s Jeremy Brett/Sherlock Holmes series and Mark Wynter ’60s pop singer turned actor, and you had a pretty good cast.

   Next year’s production, which I shall make every effort to see, is Spider’s Web.

— September 2008.

Spider's Web