I took steps in seeing Your Theatre’s production of “The 39 Steps,” the stage adaptation written by Patrick Barlow, originally from John Buchan’s novel derived from Alfred Hitchcock’s film of the same title. Directed by Larry R. Houbre, Jr., this 1930s tale is set in various areas on and around the British Isles and Scotland.
The story centers around a hapless chap, Richard Hannay (James Sanguinetti), an innocent bystander who finds himself the prime subject of a murder, which is only a small infraction compared to a larger, more ominous threat involving spies and devious plot to take over the world.
Seemingly suspenseful, at first, Richard flees the scene of the crime with the police and spies following close behind. This becomes an elaborate chase similar to the likes of Wyle E. Coyote and the Road Runner.
The suspense genre shifts to a vaudeville routine inspired by Benny Hill, himself.
The twist is that there is a cast of many performed by only four actors. Richard is the only one without any quick costume changes. The other three players include a lovely ingenue (Lauren Costa) and two clowns (Ian Vincent and Allison Dukes).
James Sanguinetti delivers a highly animated and expressive performance as Richard, the guilty-before-proven-innocent lead. One of his funniest moments was his flexible escape from sitting underneath a “dead” body.
Lauren Costa (Annabella, Margaret and Pamela) exuded the blitheness and vulnerability of a heroine in a film noir. In each role she portrayed, she was the subject of Richard’s desires.
Ian Vincent and Allison Dukes, the two clowns, delivered the most versatility in portraying everyone else. Allison’s ability to remember the finest details of information, a feat most actors struggle to memorize, was awe inspiring. Ian Vincent was adept at the vocal differences of each character, and was spot on portraying the “Small-fingered Man,” akin to Dr. No in Ian Fleming’s James Bond series.
Not listed as cast members, but absolutely necessary to the scenes, were the “shadows,” who were stage crew members, Cheryl A. Duclos and Lindsey Carter-Monteiro, who were given the daunting task of creating all the many scenes. It was a well-choreographed whirlwind of transitions between each vignette or gag, moving swiftly and effortlessly until the end.
The stage crew behind the scenes kept the moving parts flowing, along with extreme costume changes backstage. The pace and dynamic presentation of this show is not to be missed.
Audiences can “Step up” to Your Theatre for one more weekend with shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in New Bedford to see “The 39 Steps.” You will be glad you did.