I enjoyed The 39 Steps at the Criterion (what a wonderful old Victorian theatre!) but I felt there was a problem with the original concept. The positives: lots of brilliant stage/screen visual gags from director Maria Aitken and very good acting from the cast of four, led by Charles Edwards (last seen around the West End in Hay Fever) and Catherine McCormack. They captured the visual cliches of 1930s move acting perfectly, and the timing was great. This show's comedy has two elements. Firstly, there's the idea which Patrick Barlow has used for most of his National Theatre of Brent shows -- the cinematic epic such as Zulu! or The Charge of the Light Brigade shrunk to a small shoestring theatre format. The only problem is that the smaller the theatre and the fewer the resources, the funnier the adaptation is, and the Criterion is medium-sized rather than small. The second element is the story itself. Taking the mickey out of John Buchan's original novel might have been a better idea, because it's always easier to parody a writer who can't see the funny side. But today most people are familiar with the film, not the book, so it's Hitchcock's famous 1935 version with Robert Donat that's on the menu here. This creates a problem, because it's a very good film and Hitchcock himself always saw the funny side. The scene in which the hero Richard Hannay and the heroine have to spend the night in a hotel room handcuffed together are already funny, so all this production can do is repeat it, pretty much as on the screen. In the end the show falls between two stools. It remains too faithful to the film in the sense that it's unable to drop the original storyline and go off at an absurdist comic tangent. It might have been better to use the film just as a starting point, the way Sean Foley and Hamish McColl used Morecambe and Wise in The Play What I Wrote.