This production being a Broadway import, you might expect just another generic and generally unchallenging extravaganza. Arguably, it is, but how appealing that the most technically elaborate thing about it is the well-oiled machine of its ensemble performance. (Okay, and the terrific shadow puppets.) Claire Brownell, Ted Deasy, Eric Hissom, and Scott Parkinson rip right through this funny, hammy, riotously paced retelling of the 1935 British spy thriller about a man who finds himself embroiled in a life-threatening conspiracy and a high-stakes chase across the U.K. Officially, it's called Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps, but as the program explains, it was adapted by Patrick Barlow, based on an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon, and based on the book by John Buchan. So if anyone is counting, that's more writers than actors. Between them, however, those actors play too many characters to count, and with consistently, infectiously entertaining aplomb. Instead of an adulteration of the movie with which Hitchcock first caught Hollywood's eye, director Maria Aitken here delivers a winning testament to its enduring popularity.
Dec. 9-Jan. 3, 2009