Sunday, February 15, 2009

Leap Before We Look: The 39 Steps

At Playlab NYC we recognize like-minded artists when we see them. In that spirit we present Leap Before We Look. Wherein we blindly endorse a theatrical event right up our alley without seeing it first.


The 39 Steps is a farce based on Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 film adaptation of John Buchan's 1915 spy novel. Using minimal resources for maximum theatrical impact, the cast of four plays 150 different characters, and simple trunks and chairs are pressed into service for getaway cars and train chases.

Adapted for the stage by Patrick Barlow, the play is based on the original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon from a two-actor version of the play. Barlow is the creator and leading actor of the National Theater of Brent, a comedy double act that creates theatrical epics like Wagner's Ring Cycle with only two actors.

The first version of the play, with a cast of four actors, premiered in 2005 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Originally titled John Buchan's The 39 Steps, the show was revised again and opened at London's Tricycle Theatre before transferring to the West End. While playing at the Criterion Theatre it won the 2007 Olivier Award for Best Comedy.

The show opened January 15, 2008 on Broadway at the Roundabout Theatre's American Airlines Theatre, Ben Brantley in his New York Times review called the show a "frothy exercise in legerdemain is throwaway theater at its finest." Since then The 39 Steps has transferred twice: to the Cort Theatre on April 29, 2008, and on January 21, 2009 to the Helen Hayes Theatre. This production won two Tony Awards, and a Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience.

Update: Since the original post the show moved again this time to Off-Broadway at New World Stages, opening on March 25, 2010.

It is because of the imaginative approach to storytelling and the playful nature of the show that we recommend Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps.

No comments:

Post a Comment