RAFT Presents-Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps,
Sometimes the best comedy comes from being dead serious. We learned from Monty Python that no matter how silly those fellows were in word or action they seldom cracked a smile. That is a fundamental reason why The 39 Steps is a raucously funny evening in the theatre: Four actors are deadly earnest, even when the action is frantically ridiculous. Laughter is inevitable.
They're villains, cops, politicians, stage hands, streams, fences. You name it, they take it on with comic verve. It is a showcase of physical stagecraft.
The 39 Steps is based on a 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock, and if you pay close attention you find most of Hitchcock's films referenced, often in groan-inducing puns or allusions. And just as Hitch often made cameo appearances in his films, he pops up at least once in a shadow play that portrays Hannay's escape from bumbling officers.
This show could fool you into believing there is a big cast, a lot of scenery and many locales. In truth, it is done with a few props and costume changes and lots of inventive stage business.
When the characters are wandering the windy moors, they flap their coats incessantly. For an escape from a rear window(one of those Hitchcock references), Deasy steps through a square window frame he's been holding. An imaginative sequence atop a speeding train will remind you that clever staging doesn't need to be literal, just suggestive. And watch when Hannay is escorted through a mansion with many doors: Just one door that keeps moving around the stage as our hero and his oddball hostess (Hissom in drag) walk around looking for the master of the house.
The great fun of The 39 Steps is its invention. Truth to tell, it a very faithful retelling of Hitchcock's film (and the novel on which it's based). But there is another level of entertainment that makes it so much more than a daring mystery/spy story. The characters move with carefully choreographed absurdity: Even when you anticipate where a scene is going, some twist or strange physical move will catch you unaware and tickle your funny bone.
B Street Theatre
2711 B Street
Sacramento, CA 95816
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: No|