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Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps

2009 December 3

39s.543More Laurel and Hardy than the Keystone Cops, “The 39 Steps” is a Vaudevillian slapstick that mixes Alfred Hitchcock movie themes with Mickey Spillane comics and novels.

Adapted from Hitchcock’s 1935 thriller “The 39 Steps” and based on the book by John Buchan, the play takes a lighthearted look at bored Richard Hannay (Ted Deasy) sitting home alone in London when he decides to go to the theater.

Hannay meets Annabella Schmidt (Claire Brownwell) who sits in the theater box across from his. He takes her home, and in her German-Russian accent she reveals she is being chased by assassins who know about the secretive “39 steps.” Before she can disclose anymore about them, she is murdered while sitting on Hannay’s lap.

The spy thriller begins.

Three actors and one actress play a variety of characters who change before your eyes as they spin around and become someone else. Man #1 (Eric Hissom) and Man #2 (Scott Parkinson) play a variety of quirky male and female characters and make the audience squeal with delight at their physical comedy.

While the acting is superb, the physical comedy is outstanding. Thanks to movement director Toby Sedgwick, the characters come off as fine-tuned soldiers whether they are acting as barkers at a Vaudeville show or as passengers who move in unison while traveling on a train or a car.

“The 39 Steps” has won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy, a Drama Desk Award, and two Tony Awards. The play runs at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre through Dec. 6.

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