The 39 Steps - Eugene McCoy, Maddie Rice & Tom Byrne, pic by Mark Senior

What to expect from the revived spoof of gripping spy thriller The 39 Steps? Much hilarity, laughter, silliness, farce, perfectly timed mis-timings and a plot that ripped along as quickly as the character changes.

Set between the wars, The 39 Steps opens with our rather forlorn hero Richard Hannay, played by The Crown’s Tom Byrne READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH HIM HERE, being hoodwinked by femme fatale Annabella Schmidt (Safeena Ladha) who tells him about a highly suspect spy ring before being stabbed literally in the back, cue much comical writhing, just before he has time to cook her breakfast: “everyone loves a spot of haddock.”

39 Steps – Safeena Ladha & Tom Byrne, pic by Mark Senior

Hannay then takes up her mission, heading up to Scotland to find a man with only half a finger, while being pursued by the police, numerous men in kilts, dodgy blokes in raincoats and the buttoned up Pamela.

Yet while true to Hitchcock‘s film, and John Buchan’s novel, the plot is almost irrelevant despite its nods to Bond, Austin Powers, Psycho and Brief Encounter, because the real focus is on the pace, the farce, the laughs and mishaps.

The 39 Steps – Safeena Ladha, Eugene McCoy, Tom Byrne, Maddie Rice, pic by Mark Senior

And rather than a smack-you-about-the-head kind of humour, Patrick Barlow‘s adaption picks you up from the word go in this light-hearted merry-go-round of a caper.

Silly to an extreme – the farcical element of miscues, terrible accents, hilarious stage effects and a myriad of changing characters (138 in total) all collude to make this a really fun night out.

The 39 Steps – Safeena Ladha & Tom Byrne, pic by Mark Senior

As for the cast, they were extraordinary – Tom Byrne‘s stoic, stiff-uper-iipped-buccaneer played so adeptly, joined by Safeena Ladha as the dramatic leading ladies Annabella Schmidt, Pamela and Margaret, while Eugene McCoy and Maddie Rice somehow cover the remaining 100+ characters so delightfully.

So if you fancy a right rollicking romp, dastardly deeds, inspired escapism and a fabulous night of blithe entertainment, it’s impossible not to enjoy yourself.

The 39 Steps runs at Oxford Playhouse until Saturday June 15. But tickets are limited so don’t delay chaps