Monday, April 11, 2011

Quick Hit Theater Review: The 39 Steps -- Hartford Stage

Christina Pumariega, Steve French, Robert Eli and Noble Shropshire. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps
Hartford Stage
Adapted by Patrick Barlow from the film, taken from the novel by John Buchan
Directed by Maxwell Williams

Summary:
A tongue-in-cheek retelling of the classic film about a man who stumbles upon an espionage plot to smuggle vital war time secrets out of England to Nazi Germany, complete with a chase aboard a speeding train. It will make you laugh whether you've seen the film or not and if you're a fan of the film or Hitchcock, there is a lot of humor especially for you.

Highlights:
Very clever staging and spoofy effects (including lighting with stick puppets). Robert Eli stars as the man pulled into the intrigue of dozens of characters -- some created at the literal drop of a hat -- played by the other three cast members: Steve French, Noble Shropshire and Christina Pumariega. All are skilled.

Lowlights:
The pace is off, so that some of the gags and sarcasm seem staged instead of spontaneous.

More information:
The 39 Steps runs through May 1 at Hartford Stage, 50 Church St., Hartford. Tickets are $23 to $69 with various discounts available and can be purchased by calling 860-527-5151 or by visiting www.hartfordstage.org.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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