Laguna Playhouse presents the Olivier & Tony Award-winning play; Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. With a four-person cast playing over 150 characters, the show is a mix of comedy and suspense that will thrill you up to the closing dramatic moments.
“The original 39 Steps was not funny. The 1915 novel by John Buchan is a thriller, and the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film is a noteworthy precursor to the psychological suspense genre known as film noir. However, when Patrick Barlow re-imagines Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps for the stage, he made it a farce—a style of comedy based on inane plots, mistaken identities, linguistic acrobatics and easily identifiable characters,” says Lauren Simon, Artistic/Literary Manager at the Laguna Playhouse.
The set is minimalistic and as the first character is introduced on stage you know you are watching a heavily-influenced Hitchcock production. It’s the over dramatic back lit silhouettes, over pronounced accents, and long pregnant pauses punctuated by synchronized movements across the stage that make this film-noir for the stage. You can’t help but laugh at the way in which the main character, the boring Richard Hannay, is thrust into a whirlwind spy/murder mystery when a woman is killed in his flat. As he runs from the law in pursuit of the truth, he encounters a plethora of characters along the way (played by the other three cast members). One of my favorite scenes was one when Hannay is running from the law by jumping from train car to train car in the dead of night. But there was no train on stage here, only large trunks, fog, dramatic lighting, sound effects and superbly choreographed movement and acting.
Of course the play pays tribute to the great Hitchcock. You’ll notice references to North by Northwest, Rear Window (listen carefully or you may miss this slyly placed one), The Birds, Vertigo, Psycho and more. In fact, if you are a Hitchcock aficionado you’ll notice that verbatim dialog from Hitchcock’s 39 Steps is kept in the play. This was by far one of the most enjoyable and unique plays I have seen come to the Laguna Playhouse. I grew up on Hitchcock films and enjoyed the pithy physical humor and witty dialogue of the play. It was impressive to see four actors work as one well-oiled machine to bring the film-noir to life on the stage.
Alfred Hitchcock’s 39 Steps
Now playing thru October 21st
By Anne-Marie S.