39 Steps Pokes Away from Hitchcock

  • 01/25/2013
  • Terelle Jerricks

By John Farrell, Theater Columnist

The 39 Steps is a novel, a thriller, by John Buchan, a film, also a thriller, by Alfred Hitchcock, and, finally, a play, a comic romp through the same story, by Patrick Barlow.

The Hitchcock film, rated one of the top 20 or so films of all time, requires everything the Forth Bridge in Scotland to an airplane to tell its story.

In Barlow’s version, which won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy in 2007, everything in the movie is still there, but with just four characters playing 23 roles, more than a few rocks and bridge abutments, and making sly references to other Hitchcock films in the process.

Barlow’s comic adaptation, now at the Kentwood Players at the Westchester Theater, finds director Ben Lupejkis using his four actors, Frank Weidner in the starring role of Richard Hannay, Shaina Zalma Ostroff as all three women in the play, and Karl Schott and Patricia Butler as the 2 clowns (i.e.: everyone else).

The comedy is broad. Karl Schott, a very big man, is given several cross-dressing parts, which are hugely comic, for instance. Weidner’s Hannay is properly blasé, even when he is handcuffed to the heroine as he flees across Scotland. Ostroff is three very different women in her roles, and Butler and Schott carry out the very quick scene and costume changes with skill and efficiency, even on the Westchester Theater’s small stage. Its a delightful romp through Hitchcock’s film, a smashing afternoon (or evening) at the theater, and it leaves you hungry enough to rent the original film just to see what Sir Alfred did with the story 70 years earlier.

Tickets are $18. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. through February 16.

Watch video highlights.

Details: (310).645.5156www.kentwoodplayers.org
Venue: Westchester Playhouse
Location: 8301 Hindry Ave., Los Angeles

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