Step into a comic caper

The 39 Steps.
The 39 Steps.
Tom Chambers as Bobby in Crazy For You. Picture by Richard Davenport

REVIEW: Crazy For You, at Mayflower Theatre in Southampton

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Having written the stage adaptation of John Buchan’s The 39 Steps, Patrick Barlow has seen his play performed all over the world in the past eight years.

The play is now back on a UK national tour, and comes to the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, from Monday until Saturday.

For Patrick, it’s a return to familiar territory.

He says: ‘I used to work down there. I started up the Solent People’s Theatre which was in Southampton and Portsmouth in the early 1970s.

‘I ran it for a couple of years so I got to know the area really well, basically the whole M27 with Gosport and Fareham. After that I moved on and started the National Theatre of Brent.’

The National Theatre of Brent is a two-man double act, in the form of a mock two-man theatre group – Patrick plays the artistic director and he has an assistant (who he refers to as the whole company).

Patrick first decided to adapt The 39 Steps because of his love for the book and the Hitchcock film. His play, based on the comedy thriller, follows four actors as they take on 139 roles in 100 minutes.

He says: ‘The idea of adapting it for the stage was a challenge, especially with just four actors, so it was exciting. You can watch the actors and the characters battling through and I always thought that was a funny idea.

‘I love the pleasure of writing and putting something on stage that I’ve written. It’s a marvellous feeling.’

The production has gone on to be performed in Australia, Russia and Japan.

‘I don’t know why it has appealed to people across the world. Many different cultures have seen it and they love it as much as a any other country does.’

‘Right now I’m writing a version of A Christmas Carol for America which will feature five actors, and I hope it gets shown over here too.’

Tickets: £10.50 to £19 on (023) 8067 1771 or go to nuffieldtheatre.co.uk.