GUTHRIE — Corners are never shaved and compromises are never made in the Alfred Hitchcock favorite “The 39 Steps,” the second production in the Pollard Theatre's 2012-13 season.
James Ong directs an excellent cast on a set based on the design by James Wolk and Donald Jordan. Properties designs by Emily Frei and Josh Cain are enhanced by Timothy Stewart. Lou Bird's costume design is coordinated by Michael James. W. Jerome Stevenson's lighting design and Joshua Childress' sound design are exactly right.
“The 39 Steps” was a memorable 1935 movie loosely taken from the novel by John Buchan. Patrick Barlow's stage adaptation salutes Hitchcock's comic bent. The story details the dissolute life of a young gentleman whose evening at the theater is interrupted by a young lady attempting to avoid foreign spies.
Richard Hannay must now elude the police who consider him the primary suspect in her murder, but he must also locate and dismantle the spy ring before they can escape with information that is a threat to National Security.
Hannay, expertly portrayed by Timothy Stewart, encounters many obstacles and dangers in his adventures as he meets a strange assortment of interesting characters in a mad dash across an unforgiving Scottish landscape to save England.
All the women he encounters are similarly beautiful and they are all portrayed by Gwendolyn Evans, a comic actress whose rapport with Stewart is perfect in every incarnation. All of the other characters (coming to about 100 or so) are played by Joshua McGowen and Jared Blount. Each is distinct and played hilariously.
Ong takes the subtle humor inherent in Hitchcock's work to heart, and there is an element of Monty Python that the audience can appreciate, particularly with McGowen and Blount. “The 39 Steps” is outrageously hilarious and ‘titterating' to quote an excited patron.
The production certainly merits the opening night's standing ovation. The cast's charm makes “The 39 Steps” a hit that should not be missed.
— Elizabeth Hurd