The 39 Steps at the Spring Arts Centre, Havant

The cast of HumDrum's The 39 Steps, from left:  Caz Gilmore, Philip Donald, Ben Counter and (seated) Sean Fisher.    Picture: Russell Blitz.
The cast of HumDrum's The 39 Steps, from left: Caz Gilmore, Philip Donald, Ben Counter and (seated) Sean Fisher. Picture: Russell Blitz.
Death of a Salesman at The Spring, Havant

REVIEW: Death of a Salesman at The Spring, Havant

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FAVOURITE gag? Perhaps the verbal one about hymns, or the visual one about the fog. Or perhaps the one that mixes verbal and visual, with two bi-plane airmen sounding and looking like refugees from ‘Allo ‘Allo.

But the fact is that every theatre-goer will probably take a different ‘favourite’ from HumDrum’s production.

This, as must be obvious by now to anyone familiar with The 39 Steps, is a spoof version of John Buchan’s classic adventure novel.

How much of what we see is down to writer Patrick Barlow and how much to director Sam Sampson and his four-strong cast I cannot say. But they certainly have a whale of a time, and the fun is infectious.

The danger in such a production is that it will become self-indulgent, and there are moments here when I could wish for a little less fooling in favour of pressing forward with the action.

But that is churlish. So much energy, inventiveness and sheer joie-de-vivre has gone into it, after all.

Sean Fisher is the only actor playing only one role, hero-on-the-run Richard Hannay, and does so with his upper lip starched-collar-stiff.

Caz Gilmore characterises the principal women very precisely, no matter what contortions and accents are demanded of her.

But it is Ben Counter and particularly Philip Donald, billed as clowns but playing more roles than you could find sprigs of heather in the Highlands, who revel most riotously in the romp.

Until Saturday.