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
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
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
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
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.