Alfred Hitchcock spy thrilller The 39 Steps has now been turned into an affectionately comic stage version for the stage, complete with stiff-upper-lipped hero and double-crossing secret agents.
Lead actor Richard Ede talks about the show.
You played the role of Richard Hannay before. What’s brought you back?
It’s an interesting dynamic to play the straight man in such a hilarious show but it’s so important to anchor the comedy in an interesting plotline.
If the audience don’t care about Hannay (even when he’s being difficult) then we won’t keep their attention. I feel the pressure of that but it’s a great challenge and it’s what brought me back.
I had forgotten quite how physical the show is. I have remembered this now and have the bruises to prove it.
Although you only play one character, the other three cast members play many. What’s that like?
It is a double-edged sword to only play one character in a multi-role show. I see the guys in the wings getting changed, sometimes even on-stage. Every time I see them they’re in a new costume.
However, the reason Hannay never changes is because I NEVER GO OFF STAGE. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I probably get one minute off stage during the whole show.
It is exhausting but it makes the show fly by!
The show must be pretty full-on, particularly back-stage. Is it all chaos or an oasis of organised calm?
We have a wonderful backstage team who are waiting to ably assist in whatever quick change needs performing or prop needs changing.
Sadly for them, they have four sweaty idiots running at them with show-adrenaline coursing through their veins.
I’m often on stage during the show and I hear a crash in the wings. The audience probably think it’s part of the performance.
What acting role would you love to be offered?
I’d love to get offered a role in something futuristic – I’m a huge science fiction fan so that would make my day. I get offered a lot of comic roles because I can occasionally be quite funny! It’s interesting in this show that even the “straight-man” needs good comic timing because the show is so slick and clever.
Is this your first time performing at Sheffield Lyceum?
I performed in Sheffield on the last tour of The 39 Steps and I’m really looking forward to coming back. Last time I was here my friend Andy Day (from BBC’s CBeebies) was also touring in Sheffield – he had the night off and he decided to watch The 39 Steps without realising that I was in it. He said that he almost shouted out “hello” when the show started!
Richard is back at the Lyceum next Tuesday to Saturday. Box office: Sheffield Theatres or 0114 249 6000.