The 39 Steps: genre

The 39 Steps: genre

Summary of Genres and Adaptaions

  • “The 39 Steps” is predominantly categorised as a mixture of thriller, drama and comedy.
  • Originaly writtien as a novel by John Buchan in 1915, it was later adapted into a variety of formats such drama, film, and radio plays, which blurred the genre lines.
  • “The 39 Steps” became famously known as a spy-themed thriller when Alfred Hitchcock adapted it into a film in 1935.

Incorporation of Genre in Stage Play

  • In the context of a stage play, the genre incorporates fast-paced dialogues, physical comedy, and slapstick humour, which lightens the heaviness of the thriller narrative.
  • The text incorporates a range of dramatic tension-building techniques, from cliffhanger moments to dramatic irony, typical of the thriller genre.
  • Comedy arises from a number of sources in the play - particularly the physical performances and fast-paced, quick-changing multiple roles played by a small number of actors.
  • The play also incorporates elements of romance, particularly in the developing relationship between Richard Hannay and Pamela.

The Influence of Farce in The 39 Steps

  • In stage adaptations, “The 39 Steps” can also be seen as a farce - a specific type of comedy that involves slapstick humour, improbable situations, and high energy performances.
  • It is important to understand the various genres that “The 39 Steps” straddles, as these influence both the themes explored in the work and the way it is presented on stage.