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Theater Review: “The 39 Steps”

Photo credit:
Ken Jaques

Londoner Richard Hannay, trying to take his mind off his near-suicidal boredom, opts to go to the theater – something “mindless and trivial” – and ends up on the run in “The 39 Steps,” a hilarious nonstop homage to the Hitchcock film of the same name.

His seatmate is Anabella Schmidt (Erica Marie Weisz), a gorgeous if, um, unusual woman with a nearly-indecipherable Russo-Slavic accent, who says she’s a spy and is herself fleeing unspecified bad dudes.

She asks to spend the night in Hannay’s apartment, but when she turns up dead the next morning, Hannay finds himself running from the law.

Desha Crownover directs this wild and crazy piece with all the speed and humor it demands, keeping the audience nearly as breathless as the actors.

Michael Lundy plays the hapless Hannay, hilarious as he flees pursuers and others – some 136 of them – along the way.

That’s excluding Lundy and Weisz, who also plays two other characters: proper Brit Pamela and Margaret, repressed wife of a Bible verse-spouting Scottish farmer.

Jacob Sampson and Russell Clements play most of the characters in this lickety-split chase plot that has Hannay on an imaginary train, fleeing from “The Birds,” the “North By Northwest” helicopter and various other staples of the Hitchcock oeuvre.

It’s tour de force, nonstop silliness, making fun of the indecipherable Scots (my dad was from Scotland, so I can relate) as well as politicians and of course the master filmmaker himself.

Lundy is excellent as Hannay, who finds himself with more excitement than he bargained for. Weisz is also terrific as the mysterious Annabella, Pamela and Margaret, shifting from one language pattern and accent to another with seeming ease.

But Sampson and Clements own this show, with their jaw-dropping split-second switches and portrayals of all the other characters. Some of the changes are made with hats, others with pieces of clothing, accents, attitudes ... it’s a wonder to watch.

Kudos also to Michael Cook and Julian Sink for their perfect timing of sound and light cues and to Marcee Drysdale for those great costumes.

If you’re in the mood for something “mindless and trivial,” get over to Coronado Playhouse before “The 39 Steps” closes. You won’t regret it.

The details

“The 39 Steps” plays through April 23, 2017 at Coronado Playhouse, 1835 Strand Way, Coronado.

Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm

Tickets: (619) 435-4856 or www.coronadoplayhouse.com