After playing as part of the Melbourne Theatre Company’s 2008 season, Patrick Barlow’s brilliantly minimalist adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s exquisitely filmic adaptation of John Buchan’s thrilling novel is yet again wowing audiences.
The mostly hilarious show follows the adventures of Richard Hannay (played by Mark Pegler), your typical debonair-Cary-Grant-victim-of-injustice-type, who falls innocently into hot water and spends the rest of the play trying to get out of it. Of course he falls in love with a mysterious blonde stranger, played by the extremely versatile Helen Christinson, and finds himself in numerous awkward situations: pursued by police, fooling hotel owners, farmers and train conductors, all played by Russell Fletcher and Jo Turner, who deliver more than a 100 roles in 100 minutes.
There’s a brilliantly innovative multi-media/stick puppet component when Hannay is chased by aeroplanes and, yes, we even see Alfred Hitchcock (well, at least his miniature shadow behind a sheet).
Sioban Tuke’s direction is sharp (based on Maria Aitken’s original direction), the set and costume design (Peter McKintosh) is intelligent and efficient (and needs to be) and the technical elements are well-tuned. Of all the performances Jo Turner is a particular stand out in his role of the farmer, hotel owner’s wife, Mister Memory and others. His timing, quick changes and range of accents are a delight.
Producers Andrew Kay and Liza McLean have worked separately and together in the industry for years, but started Kay & McLean Productions in 2008 combining a wealth of experience to produce The 39 Steps and tour it nationally and internationally.
If you haven’t seen it and you’re a fan of theatre which aims to please, provides steady laughs and leaves you smiling at the end, don’t miss the current run of The 39 Steps playing until February 14th.
the Arts Centre and Kay & McLean Productions in assoc with the MTC present
The 39 Steps
Venue: Playhouse, the Arts Centre
Dates: 22 Jan 2009 - 14 Feb 2009
Times: Tuesday 6.30pm, Wednesday 1pm & 8pm, Thursday & Friday 8pm, Saturday 4pm & 8pm, Sunday 4pm
Tickets: From $79.90 - $34.50