The 39 Steps: Costume design (including hair and make-up)

The 39 Steps: Costume design (including hair and make-up)

Costume Design in ‘The 39 Steps’

  • The costume design for ‘The 39 Steps’ is essential in contributing towards the comedic and exaggerated style of the play.
  • The simplicity in costume design allows swift on-stage changes between the multitude of characters, an aspect central to the play’s farcical nature.
  • The costumes are not period-precise. Instead, they offer a stylised and exaggerated representation of the 1930s, contributing to the surreal and humorous tone.
  • Key items of clothing are used to differentiate between characters. For examples, hats and coats are key pieces often used to help the multi-roles seen in the play.

Costume Changes

  • The use of the same actors in numerous roles (multi-roling) requires swift costume changes, incorporated into the onstage action for comedic effect.
  • Hannay’s costume remains the same throughout the play, aiding the audience’s recognition of the character amidst the swift changes.

Character Representation

  • Attention to contrasting colours, especially in the case of the mysterious, femme fatale Annabella Schmidt, helps to emphasise character traits and relationships.
  • Costumes lean towards the stereotypical in their design to instantly convey the character to the audience. For example, the classic trench coat and suit for Richard Hannay, the protagonist.
  • Distinguishing accessories and props, like glasses or walking sticks, supplement character portrayal and contribute to the fast-paced character switches.
  • Pay attention to significant costume pieces or props that might denote a plot point or storyline, as they often have symbolic significance, e.g., the professor’s missing finger.

Hair and Makeup

  • Hair and makeup align with the stereotypical representation of characters: neat and simplistic for Hannay, seductive for Annabella and Germanic for the antagonist Professor Jordan.
  • Costume, hair, and makeup are often exaggerated for comic effect, aligning with the play’s genre of farce and reputation for slapstick comedy.

Remember, understanding the role of costume, hair, and make-up in ‘The 39 Steps’ is important for understanding the play’s style, characters and also helps communicate the narrative.