The 39 Steps: structure

The 39 Steps: structure

Play Structure

  • “The 39 Steps” is divided into two acts, each comprising several scenes. This structure provides a linear narrative flow, even though flashbacks and timeskips are utilised to add depth to the story.

  • The play entails a structure known as “Story Theatre” where the actors break the fourth wall, narrate, present multiple characters, and engage in onstage costume changes.

  • Act One features several scenes initiating with the introduction of major characters and establishing the setting and context, culminating in a suspenseful cliffhanger.

  • In contest, Act Two begins with a resolution to the suspense, progresses the plot with new twists and turns, and concludes with a satisfying resolution.

Performance and Delivery

  • The opening scene sets the tone of the play, indicating to the audience that it’s a light-hearted, comedic interpretation of an espionage thriller.

  • The play is renowned for its fast pace, swiftly transitioning from one scene to the next, providing a unique and engaging dynamic.

  • Scènes often incorporate elements of slapstick comedy and physical theatre to extend the narrative and enhance the humour.

  • The structure of “The 39 Steps” necessitates an intimate relationship between the actors and the audience, as they need to use their imaginations to visualise the ever-changing settings and characters.

Setting and Time

  • The setting changes continually throughout the play, further evidence of its fast pace. The authors use minimalistic stage props to assist the audience in understanding the frequent location shifts.

  • The play manipulates Time in a non-linear manner to escalate suspense; this is achieved by employing flashbacks and flash-forwards.

  • The play draws to a close in a way that clears up most unanswered questions, yet leaves room for interpretation, thus stimulating the audience to contemplate the narrative’s implications.