Performed with panache: The 39 Steps is worthy swansong for QE’s Drama head

Performed with panache: The 39 Steps is worthy swansong for QE’s Drama head

QE’s actors combined adventure with comedy in their fast-moving re-telling of John Buchan’s much-loved tale of espionage and danger, The 39 Steps.

The 2018 School Play involved a cast of almost 40 boys drawn from Years 7–13, supported by boys in directing and technical roles and by a team of composers and instrumentalists led by Director of Music Cheryl Horne.

The final night in the Main School Hall ended on an emotional note, as this was the last School Play for the production’s Director, Elaine White, who retires this summer. In addition to flowers, she received a tribute in the form of a book from QE actors past and present containing their memories of the many productions in which she has been involved.

""Headmaster Neil Enright, who watched the play alongside Chairman of Governors Barrie Martin MBE, said: “Elaine has been pivotal in making Drama once again a central part of the extra-curricular offer at QE; I am most grateful for her dedication and commitment over the years. She has brought great joy to QE’s young actors and to audiences alike.”

""“The 39 Steps was a fitting swansong. The production was very entertaining – it has been many years since I have laughed so much! – and highly memorable, too. It was also well-attended over the two nights. And perhaps most importantly, the boys involved seemed to thoroughly enjoy performing.

“Those playing the female roles did so with great conviction – dancing in high heels is no mean feat –while Year 9 boy Shivas Patel, who played Mrs McGarigle, spoke with a very convincing Scottish accent. I must also commend the performance of George Raynor, of Year 10, in the lead role of Hannay, who had a very large number of lines to learn and was involved in a good deal of the action.”

""The 39 Steps was among the first spy thrillers ever written. Its author, who was born in Scotland in 1875, had a remarkable life which included: helping in the re-structuring of South Africa following the Boer War; working as a literary adviser for a London publishing house, and serving in the First World War firstly in the Intelligence Corps and later in the Ministry of Information, while also working as a war correspondent for The Times. After the war, he became assistant director of the British news agency, Reuters, and was the Unionist Member of Parliament for the Scottish universities, 1927–35. In 1935 he was created Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfield and also appointed Governor-General of Canada – a post he held until his death in 1940 from a cerebral thrombosis. Buchan wrote throughout his adult life.

Year 7 were treated to a matinee performance before the two public evening performances.