It may be The 39 Steps but 139 characters give the tiny cast a big hill to climb

If you have never seen the Hitchcock movie or read John Buchan’s masterpiece you may struggle to know what exactly is going on.

But there are plenty of laughs to keep even a stranger to this fiction amused.

The epic movie is set over two countries with a cast of hundreds - this comedy pastiche has a cast of four but incorporates 139 characters - 135 of them split between two actors listed as “clown 1 and clown 2”.

But this seems an insult to the acting talents of Eugene McCoy and Maddie Rice who switched aimlessly from one bonkers character to the next without missing a beat - unless intentionally.

They even played two characters at once on occasion and quite how they remembered who they were supposed to be, what costumes they should be wearing and what accents they needed to trot out was incredible. There was definitely more than one Mr Memory in this show.

The actor playing the lead, Richard Hannay, seemed almost lazy by comparison.

With Bridgerton and the Crown actor Tom Byrne indisposed Jacob Daniels stepped up to the mark.

And although he seemed a little nervous in the opening scene he soon relaxed and absolutely nailed the performance, with Safeena Ladha as his love interest, a safe pair of hands.

This kind of theatre is not my favourite genre but with an Olivier Comedy Award tucked in its back pocket there is no doubting the skill on stage - and off it.

This Boy's Own Adventure type tale, set ahead of the outbreak of World War Two, was paced at a breakneck speed as our hero tries to prevent important information falling into enemy hands.

But it would have been a far poorer show without the lighting and sound design of Ian Scott and Mic Pool. The shadow scenes in particular were very funny and well thought out.

This is not for everyone but it is a safe, family show with a little bit of peril and more than a few chuckles.

•Runs until Saturday

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