Theatre Mirror Reviews -"The 39 Steps"

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note: entire contents copyright 2011 by Cindy Sue

"The 39 Steps"

Theater review by Cindy Sue

The 39 Steps
adapted by Patrick Barlow
from the book by John Buchanan
from the movie of Alfred Hitchcock

At the Winnipesaukee Playhouse
July 3-13, 2013

A play adapted from a book and movie may be a difficult concept to get your head around but The 39 Steps is a comedy laced parody of spy novels incorporating old time vaudeville and ingenious theatrics that is hard not to laugh out loud at. Co-directors Neil Parkhurst and Timothy L’Ecuyer take performance to a whole new level as they use various sections of the auditorium to simply but effectively create multiple “spaces” and direct the fabulously talented cast in bringing numerous characters to life.

Alex Jacobs is brilliant as Richard Hannay, the lonely bachelor whose life is turned upside down when he meets a beautiful Russian spy with a deadly secret. His adroitness and talent are amazing whether sliding out from under a dead body, being chased atop a moving train, escaping to and hanging from a bridge or racing across the moors, he shines in this role. His fiery ”impromptu” speech at an outdoor gathering and his actions and reactions while being handcuffed to an uncooperative young lady were wonderful.

Jennette Bonner is terrific in her triple roles as the Russian Spy Annabella Schmidt, lonely farmwife Margaret and straight-laced young lady, Pamela. Pamela first meets Richard when he bursts into her compartment on the train to avoid being captured by the police and later winds up handcuffed to and forced to flee with him. The scene at the Inn where her feelings for him begin to change in part because of wet nylons and in part because she overhears “the truth” is delightful..

A.J. Ditty and Adam Kee are wonderful as the “clowns” tackling a variety of roles (and costume changes) with great success. Although each one of them have little gems of characters, my favorites were AJ Ditty as the Master of Ceremonies and a villainous spy while Adam Kee delights as Mr. Memory and the spy’s wife, I especially enjoyed their delightful portrayal of benevolent Scottish innkeepers who can keep a secret.

As in his movies and television shows, Alfred Hitchcock makes a “cameo” appearance along with a few feathered friends, watch for it!

A play of this complexity, with quick changes, fights and flights; lighting, wind and sound cues and even an onstage plane crash, requires as much support backstage as the ensemble cast show onstage. Kudos to Set Design by Dan Daly; Costume Design by Lori McGinley; Lighting Design by Shawn Kaufman; Sound Design by Neil Parkhurst; Props Coordinator Johanna Halperin; Fight Choreography by Alex Jacobs; Hair and Make-up Coordinator Tonya Free and Costume Assistant Emily Warner.

If your steps take you anywhere near Meredith, New Hampshire be sure to take your seat in the new Winni Playhouse for a night (or afternoon) of absolutely amazing theater!

"The 39 Steps" (31 July - 10 August)
@ 50 Reservoir Road, MEREDITH NH

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide