“ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S THE 39 STEPS”  CLIMBS TO COMIC HEIGHTS IN HARTFORD


BONNIE GOLDBERG

“Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps” is definitely a mystery and a comedy, but it can also be labeled a farce, an action adventure, a vaudeville act worthy of an Abbott and Costello and a melodrama, even though the hero jumps from a train instead of the heroine being tied to the tracks.

Until Sunday, May 1, the Hartford Stage dares you to follow the crazy shenanigans and clever antics abounding in “The 39 Steps,” adapted by Patrick Barlow, from the novel by John Buchan, based on the movie by Alfred Hitchcock.  From the moment the face and voice of that master of suspense welcomes you, the sinister and slightly silly race is on.

Richard Hannay, a versatile Robert Eli, sits in his London flat in the summer of 1935, bored and discontent, tired of his tedious and dull existence.  For diversion, he heads to a music hall in the West End where a Mr. Memory is performing.  A shot rings out, he rescues a German woman named Annabella, gives her shelter in his home, learns she is a spy trying to save England from disaster and discovers her dead with a knife in her back…all in the first five minutes.

In addition to Robert Eli, this talented troupe of four includes Noble Shropshire, Steven French and Christina Pumariega.  With a change of hat, wig, costume and accent, this quartet morphs and mushrooms its way to over a hundred characters and items of scenery, from magician to milkman to maid to motel keeper to murderer, all with a minimum of fuss and split second timing.  Any lack of scenery is more than made up for by an abundance of sound effects. 

Whether it’s herring or hymnbooks or handcuffs, you’ll have a wonderful time with this tongue-in-cheek spoof, carefully crafted by director Maxwell Williams.

For tickets ($23-69), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org.  Performances are Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees at 2 p.m. Sunday and selected Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Follow our hero Richard as he gallivants all over England and Scotland seeking the spy with part of his little finger missing, the mastermind who heads the organization known as The 39 Steps.

 

 

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