Monty Python is alive and well at the Kavinoky from now till November 20th. The 39 Steps is hilarious. Hitchcock himself, who directed the 1935 spy thriller on which this is based, would have laughed out loud, as did I and all of those around me at the first preview for this show. And hmmm, did I spy the master himself on the stage at one point?
This mash-up of British noir, spy thriller, physical and romantic comedy and farce, played by four actors in all the parts, is funny, goofy, silly, and has a message.
In the story, Richard Hannay, (played with gusto by Christopher Evans) a Canadian and a bit of a fop, is adrift in London - bored, lonely, and at loose ends. At a music hall performance by Mr. Memory, he flirts with Annabella Schmidt (Kate LoConti at her Marlene Dietrich best), a beautiful, mysterious woman in the box across from him. Gunshots are fired, mayhem ensues, and back at his apartment, Annabella tells Richard about a foreign spy and a plot to take important documents out of the country. She is killed in his apartment and he is left with only a few clues as to whom and where this spy may be. Afraid he’ll be accused of her murder, he flees London to go to the Highlands to find the spy and clear his name. And then……
Mr. Evans is excellent as the clueless, yet ultimately brave, almost-young man on a mission. How he removes himself from the dead body of Annabella is worth the price of admission. After that, he runs. He cowers. He hides. He flirts with every woman he meets (male and female), and inadvertently entering a political rally and being mistaken for the keynote speaker, he gives a stirring speech in defense of freedom, justice, and every good thing. Whew!
Ms. LoConti is seductive, mysterious, charming, demure, sweet, and very good in her three roles. She is engaging and smart, and you can tell she knows a thing or two about life and love and men as she becomes Margaret and Pamela after the demise of Annabella.
David Lamb’s direction has this group of four moving at lightning speed as they’re put through their paces, particularly the two clowns, played by Christian Brandjes and David Lundy. These two rush about the stage as secret agents, cops, politicians, spies, women, news agents, train conductors, ladies lingerie salesmen, highland farmers, and hotel owners, among others, all the while changing the minimalist set props to become a train car, automobile, hotel room, apartment, and on and on. I’m getting overwhelmed just writing this, and these actors are actually playing 100 or so roles in less than two hours. Both do a fine job of it, being whichever character is required at any given moment. Their timing together is excellent. As the lingerie salesmen getting in and out of the train compartment, they dance around each other in a comic ballet. David Lundy is ridiculously funny in his transvestite roles. Christian Brandjes takes on the more serious role of Mr. Jordan, in which he also manages to be very funny.
The use of the set and props, the backlit chase scene, lighting, sound – all of it is well done, very well done.
If you’re a Hitchcock fan, you’ll love all the references to his other movies. If you’re not, it doesn’t matter. You’ll enjoy this play. Get thyself to the Kavinoky between now and November 20th for this light-hearted, fast-paced romp.
Runtime: 2hrs with a 15 minute intermission
Thursday, Friday, Saturday 7:30pm
Saturday 3:30pm, Sunday 2:00pm,