BRITISH to its bootstraps and blindingly funny, 'The 39 Steps' opened at The Q on Tuesday night, and there were laughs aplenty.
The plot follows the antics of dapper young English gent Richard Hannay- Queanbeyan's own Mike Smith- as he's wrested out of his armchair and into the middle of an international espionage scandal.
When a German double agent is killed in Hannay's apartment, revealing a secret that can save the British Empire with her dying breath, Hannay must overcome his mild manners and enter the fast-paced world of espionage. With one eye on maintaining his British dignity and the other on avoiding the police, a hilarious spy tail unfolds with tongue placed firmly in cheek throughout.
The slapstick humour, clever staging and set design is where this play really shines, and the four-person cast ably handles over 100 different characters between them, an incredible and very amusing feat.
Smith's co-star and love interest in the play is proper British dame Pamela, played with flair and humour by actress Anna Burgess.
And actors Sam Haft and Michael Lindner play just about everyone else. Although none of their characters are leading roles, the costume-swapping, accent-hopping tom-foolery that ensues serves to make them the stars of the show.
There's an old empire charm on offer here that is rife with cliches, but has great fun at the expense of all things British. It's good, clean fun, and child-friendly as well.
So off you pop to the Q, old chap. Stiff upper lip and all that. Pip pip.
* Catch The 39 Steps at The Q Theatre tonight at 8pm and Saturday (tomorrow) at 2pm and 8pm. Phone 6285 6290 for tickets.