Friday, March 8, 2013

Review: (Victoria) The 39 Steps

from left to right: Toshik Bukowiecki, Nick Sepi, Alan Penty (photo credit:  David Lowes)

The 39 Steps: A Hilarious 1930's Radio Play Brought to Life
You'll Laugh, You'll Cry, You'll Go Home Happy 
by Spencer Malthouse

The historic Langham Court Theatre presents Patrick Barlow's uproarious farce, The 39 Steps. This film-noir style piece is a slapstick romp through 1930s England and Scotland. 

The play traces the adventure of Richard Hannay (Alan Penty), who finds himself inexplicably involved in a dastardly German plot. Penty's Hannay is camp, cheeky, and lovable. His over-the-top acting is marvellously suited to the script and his energy propels the play. Opposite Hannay are three very different women, each of whom is played stunningly by Karen Brelsford. Capturing the spirit and farce of the play, Brelsford is a pleasure to watch.

The remaining 100 or so characters are played by Nick Sepi and Toshik Bukowiecki. The two must be commended for their inexhaustible energy and breadth of talent. Unfortunately, some of their portrayals fall flat. The worst, Sepi's milkman character, is a pathetic John Lennon impersonation and should be reworked. Many of their characters, however, are fantastic. Bukowiecki's scotch wife character may well have stolen the show. 

The costumes and set are far beyond what may be expected from community theatre. The myriad sound and lighting cues are seamless and the projector is integrated very well. 

The one shortfall of this production is pacing. Farce of this kind demands quick scene transitions and rapid-fire repartee, which the ensemble does not quite deliver. The cast and crew seem cautious and a number of small, erratic errors make the show drag. 

Despite the somewhat shaky performance, I can heartily recommend this hilarious comedy. The script itself is deliciously witty and the acting is very good. You will be amazed by the vast array of set pieces, costumes, characters, and plot twists. Hold on to your hat(s)!

The 39 Steps is playing at the Langham Court Theatre until March 23

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