Stand by for action as Hannay goes on the run

Ello, 'ello, 'ello then, what's goin' on here? The cast work out some early moves for The 39 Steps
Ello, 'ello, 'ello then, what's goin' on here? The cast work out some early moves for The 39 Steps

The hilariously thrilling stage play The 39 Steps arrives at The Mill Arts Centre next month, bringing with it a new definition to the notion of actors playing multiple roles.

In one of a series of productions marking the Banbury Cross Players’ 70th anniversary season, a cast of four take on the challenge of playing close to an astonishing 150 different parts.

The Cross Players are certain to delight audiences with their four-day run of The 39 Steps at The Mill from Thursday, April 22.

This exciting stage interpretation is a fast-moving spoof version of Buchan’s spy novel and the Hitchcock-directed movie thriller of the same name, which famously starred British actor Robert Donat in the lead role of Hannay.

The play takes a more light-hearted and comedic approach to its source material, performed in the style of a B movie.

However, it still provides its fair share of thrills, with enemy shoot-outs, plane crashes, villains with missing fingers and a remarkable re-creation of the daring escape over the Forth Road Bridge. It was originally adapted by Patrick Barlow from an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon.

It created an immediate stir and was named winner of the Laurence Olivier Award for the best new comedy for 2007 and continues to run at London’s Criterion Theatre.

There have been a number of touring versions and it is now a worldwide success. Banbury Cross Players pride themselves on drawing out theatrical talent from surrounding villages into the town, and this latest production is certainly no exception.

Between them, the four cast members Andrew Whiffin (Hannay), Clare Lester (Woman), Nik Lester and Dave Smith (Clowns), along with the show’s director Chrissie Garrett, represent Adderbury, Middleton Cheney and Bloxham.

The Banbury Cross Players production runs from April 22-25 at The Mill Arts Centre, with curtain up at 7.45pm each night.

Tickets are £12 (£11 concessions), available from www.themillartscentre.co.uk or by calling the Box Office on 01295 279002.