The 39 Steps – Review by Marlene Gaylinn

If you can figure out why the Scottish novelist, John Buchan’s book is entitled “The 39 Steps” and who, what or where these steps are, you might also be able to explain the English nursery rhyme, “Who Killed Cock Robin?” Even though it’s all nonsense, and your mind is apt to lose track of what is going on, the play is simply a faced-paced chase – so don’t try to figure it out. All you need to know it that, this award winning, slapstick comedy currently at Music Theatre of Connecticut (MTC) is an entertaining cleverly put together play within a play.

Gary Lindemann takes full control of the stage as the central character, “Richard Hannay,” the bored British man who is seeking new adventures. Laura Cable, is a versatile actress who plays several, female roles beginning with German spy, “Annabella Schmidt.” She literally falls into Hannay’s lap as she seeks refuge from her enemies – and so begins the chase via trains, planes, horse carts throughout the Scottish and German countryside. When the two are not improvising amusing tasks, such as removing shoes and stockings while handcuffed together, they are upside down and in and out of whatever contrivance can be thought of.

Jim Schilling is “Clown # 1” and Matt Densky is “Clown # 2.” With the flick of a wide assortment of hats, changes of accents and fascinating, improvised props (we particularly enjoyed the vintage, airplane scene) they each play many, amusing roles during their reckless capers. It’s a wonder they don’t get things confused during their hectic pace – and if they did, I’m sure that no one would notice. One of the clowns’ amusing skits takes place when Lindemann and Cable crash in a pasture. Schilling’s rendition of the farmers’ wife, and Densky as her clueless husband is hilarious. Schilling is one of the multi-talented co-founders of MTC and also plays many roles in this capacity off-stage. Densky, played the Elf in MTC “Santaland Diaries,” and is just as nimble and outstanding here.

Timing if very important in comedy and Pamela Hill, who was nominated for several Connecticut Critics Circle Awards for MTC productions, directs here again.

Plays to March 18 Tickets: 201-454-3883

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