The 39 Steps

Alfred Hitchcock’s classic spy thriller, The 39 Steps, brilliantly and hilariously recreated as the smash hit Olivier Award Winning Best New Comedy.

This blissfully funny show follows the incredible adventures of our handsome hero Richard Hannay, complete with stiff-upper-lip, British gung-ho and pencil moustache as he encounters dastardly murders, double-crossing secret agents, and, of course, devastatingly beautiful women.

This wonderfully inventive and gripping comedy thriller features four fearless actors, playing 139 roles in 100 minutes of fast-paced fun and thrilling action.

John Buchan’s novel The 39 Steps was first published in 1915. With the storyline being so very successful there have now been three films made broadly following the same storyline.

The Criterion Theatre has been home to Patrick Barlow’s adaptation for the stage since September 2006.

The story features Richard Hannay, a young man innocently becoming involved in the dark underworld of spies. Hannay flees up to Scotland for his own safety and to find out exactly what he has become embroiled in – and what indeed are The 39 Steps.

What makes the The 39 Steps a really different theatrical experience is that Hannay’s adventure is performed by only four actors.

The 39 Steps
John Buchan’s exciting thriller was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935. The 39 Steps stage play transferred to the West End after a fabulous run at the Tricycle Theatre.

John Buchan, the writer of The Thirty Nine Steps, born in Scotland on 26th August, 1875. Buchan is probably more well know for his horror fiction, including the novel Witch Wood, The Wind in the Portico and The Green Wildebeest. In 1915, Buchan published his most famous book The Thirty Nine Steps. This thriller is set just before the outbreak of the World War One. It features the hero and rather dashing Richard Hannay. It is said that Hannay was based on a friend of Buchan’s from his days in South African, Edmund Ironside.

The 39 Steps is the first of five novels by Buchan which has Richard Hannay as the main character. He has a habit of getting himself out of awkward situations. The book inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film of the same name.

Did you know? Fascinating Facts!
Robert Donat played the part of Richard Hannay and Madeleine Carroll played Pamela in The 39 Steps in 1935. The actual 39 steps are located at North Foreland, not far from Broadstairs on the Isle of Thanet, and are a tunnelled stairway leading down to the beach from a privately owned estate. The author was recuperating from an illness, and was staying in a villa in the town during 1914.


Criterion Theatre
Piccadilly Circus, London, SW1Y 4XA
Telephone Bookings 020 6492 1602
Evenings: Monday to Saturday 8.00pm
Matinees: Wednesday 3.00pm and Saturday 4.00pm

The 39 Steps closed on Saturday 5th September 2015