'The 39 Steps' reconstructs Hitchcock's film – on a bare stage
Loving spoof of the spy thriller is a triumph of imagination.
As much a choreographed ballet as a comic drama, the Olivier Prize-winning, London-stage version of "Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps," at Boston's Huntington Theatre through Oct. 14, is a loving spoof of the 1935 film. Directed by Maria Aitken, the play presents the noir masterpiece as if an impoverished – but plucky – amateur troupe was performing it live. In the show, four physically adroit actors careen up and around a stage that's bare except for a series of door frames and ladders and an over-active fog machine. The suave British actor Charles Edwards plays Richard Hannay, an innocent man caught in a murder-cum-spy plot that sends him on the lam. Jennifer Ferrin portrays his three female accomplices, leaving a pair of sumptuous clowns, Arnie Burton and Cliff Saunders, to take on more than 100 other roles. The most delightful aspect of this outrageous undertaking – which moves to Broadway in late December – is the imagination of its staging while recalling the specifics of the film. Grade: A–