We continued our Saturday tour of London by walking up to Piccadilly Circus (the “Times Square” of London) in time for the 4 pm matinee of The 39 Steps at the Criterion Theatre. The 600-seat theater is entirely underground and has been around, in one form or another, since 1874. Our seats were comfy and in a good location. The 1915 novel The 39 Steps has been made into three movies, including Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 classic, and is the story of an innocent man thrown into a spy intrigue, accused of murder, and pursued across England.
The play featured a great ensemble of four actors, playing 150 roles, with a minimal set and some wonderfully imaginative direction. And a lot a humor! At one point (the chase across the Scottish countryside) cut-out silhouettes of the characters were projected against a drop – and in the corner was the famous Hitchcock silhouette that used to grace his TV program in the 50’s. It was a very funny show and, we thought, over too soon.
We topped off our evening with a nice Italian dinner at one of the ASK branches in London and then went to Paddington to get our train back to Reading. However… the soccer fans we’d encountered in the morning were now returning, too. They were also in a sullen mood because they’d lost. Luckily, special trains had been laid on just for them and a serious number of policemen were there to keep things orderly. After a bit of confusion about which train was going where, we boarded the right train and found police on board it, too, which is pretty unusual. But the soccer fans were pretty subdued, which was a blessing, and our ride home was uneventful.
All in all, we had a very nice day out and I, for one, slept quite soundly that night!