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Review: The 39 Steps

By Antipodeanblog @antipodeanblog
Review: The 39 Steps
Director Maria Aitken's interpretation of Alfred Hitchcock's classic spy farce is the most self-aware show I have ever seen.
And I mean that in the best possible way. The show has two layers of humour: one from Hitchcock's "dashingly good" show itself, the other from cheeky actors making light of absurd theatrical conventions. It's only natural to poke fun, considering four actors play 136 roles in 90 minutes.
I knew I was going to enjoy it from the moment two menacing Russian gangsters ran on stage right carrying a lamppost and quickly froze against it looking stern, just as the hero glances out his window. When he looks away, they run off as conspiciously as they arrived.
Another gem includes two actors playing both motel owners and policemen at the same time, each switching back and forth continually to further the conversation.
Throughout the play, the audience feels as though they're in on a secret. It's the theatrical equivalent of winking at the camera.
Under the wrong director, this would be played for laughs (a la Shrek), but Aitken's staging is classy enough to deliver this layer of theater in-jokes without distracting from the heart of the original story.
By jove it's a thoroughly enjoyable night, and I shan't spoil it for you by giving away any more of the plot, I'll just say that it's jolly good fun.

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