Saturday, October 19, 2013

The 39 Steps

by Pa Rock
Theatre Fan

The 39 Steps, a lively drama about love and intrigue in pre-World War II Europe, is currently being staged at the Phoenix Theatre.  The play, based on an old Hitchcock movie, is action-packed and fun - but certainly not what I was expecting.  I entered the theatre with the assumption that I was about to have a relaxing evening watching a British mystery set in an old manor house - something that could have been leisurely penned by the late Agatha Christie.  What I encountered was a play that was more in sync with Greater Tuna than it was to The Mousetrap.

The 39 Steps features four very good actors who spend the entire play racing through costume changes and doffing an array of different hats as they assume the roles of dozens of varied characters.  It does contain an element of mystery, but the story is overwhelmed by snappy one-liners and a never-ending stream of sight gags.

I sat next to two Sweet Old Babes who are regulars at the Phoenix Theatre.  During the intermission one asked me if I was enjoying the play.  I replied with a non-committal "It's okay."  The one making the enquiry told me that she liked it, but that her friend did not.  The other lady then chirped in with, "I am not enjoying it at all."

I think that she, like myself, would have been more comfortable spending an evening with Dame Agatha.  But theatre should do more than make people comfortable - and The 39 Steps leaves comfort in the dust!

I enjoyed it, but one viewing was plenty.

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