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Falcon’s “39 Steps” Will Have You Laughing All the Way to the Top

Review by Laurel Humes of “The 39 Steps”: Falcon Theatre

Nearly non-stop laughs await those who see “The 39 Steps,” Falcon Theatre’s 30th anniversary season opener.

“The 39 Steps” started its life as a 1915 adventure novel. In 1935, Alfred Hitchcock turned the book into a thriller film.

Now English playwright Patrick Barlow has adapted the material into a parody of the movie, featuring four actors playing dozens of roles through quick costume changes, funny accents and a lot of physical comedy.

Think Monty Python, better known to us than Barlow’s own two-actor National Theatre of Brent.

It is 1935 in London. Richard Hannay (Ryan Poole), through no fault of his own, gets caught up in a spy ring bent on stealing British military secrets. Very soon, he is falsely accused of a murder and must go on the run to Scotland.

It is that “run” and all the characters he meets that make the show so much fun.

Poole is the only actor who plays just one part. Elizabeth Chinn Molloy, in a reprise of the same role several years ago at Falcon, portrays the three very different women who intersect with Hannay on his journey. And the hard-working Eileen Earnest and Ben Jacobs play everyone else!

A hilarious train scene has Poole trying to hide from Earnest’s and Jacobs’ constables, who are also conductors with just a change of hats. Poole eventually does a very funny bit of hanging outside the moving train.

Some gags are so good, the show does us the favor of repeating them. Racing across fields on foot, Poole is accompanied by Earnest as a tree. Except when she drops it long enough to say “Hi, Mom” to the audience.

Escape through windows perched on stands is another laugh-out-loud bit each time it occurs. Not that window? Then move it. And turn it around to imply Poole went through it.

There are airplanes tracking Poole’s character, except they are model wood planes and the pilots are talking through cans. Earnest and Jacobs pause the action as slow-moving old people who will not be rushed in a hilarious scene.

Silly? Yes. Entertaining? Yes!

“The 39 Steps” continues at Falcon Theatre, 636 Monmouth St., Newport, through Oct. 12. Go to www.falcontheatre.net for ticket information.