If you go to see The 39 Steps presented by The Chapel Street Players and expect to find a thriller like Psycho or Rear Window, you're going to be very surprised by what you actually see. While the Patrick Barlow adaptation is based on the serious 1935 Hitchcock thriller and 1915 novel of the same name, it is very much an over-the-top melodramatic farce. If you pay attention, you just might see small nods to some of Hitchcock's masterpieces. Much of the comedy stems from the multifaceted actors in the show. There are 4 actors who together play between 100 and 150 parts.
Tom Trietley plays the Richard Hannay, archetypal British good guy who gets drawn into an unlucky situation. He is the only constant in this show--the only unchanging character. Tom easily steps into this very British character, with dry humor and a stiff upper lip. Anna Keane plays three mysterious woman in Richard Hannay's life. It's difficult to distinguish these characters, save for the changes in hair color. Perhaps, it is because Hannay is infatuated with all 3 women: Annabella, the German spy, Pamela, the feisty British woman, and Margaret, the Scottish housewife stuck in a loveless marriage.
After Annabella (Anna Keane) dies, Richard Hannay (Tom Trietley) must figure out where in Scotland he needs to do to save the country. Photo credit Che-Yu Kuo
That leaves the final two cast members, Andrew Dluhy and Bethany Miller to play the remaining 95-145 characters. This is really where The 39 Steps shines. The quick switches, oftentimes in the same scene, between these characters is hysterical. Bethany Miller really steals the show, especially as the evil super villain. She somehow manages to make every single one of her many characters unique, and her comedic timing is impeccable. The scenes where Bethany and Andrew play multiple characters back and forth in the same scene is the highlight of the show.
The Evil Professor (Bethany Miller) has Richard Hannay (Tom Trietley, seated) right where he wants him, as his wife (Andrew Dluhy) obliviously looks on. Photo credit Che-Yu Kuo
The 39 Steps is a large undertaking, and director Joseph Pukatsch is certainly up for a challenge. He succeeded in putting together an entertaining show. The 39 Steps runs at The Chapel Street Players in Newark through September 28. For tickets, call 302-368-2248 or visit http://www.chapelstreetplayers.org.
Posted at 10:20am on September 23, 2013 by Gina Poletti
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