by Margaretha Heidel
Need to escape your holiday frenzy? RUN—don’t walk—to the Mile Square Theatre, and see “The 39 Steps”. Aptly presented as a ‘thriller, wrapped in a comedy, wrapped in madcap holiday fun for all ages’, this show is sure to please.
I can’t say enough about physical comedy—the cathartic feeling you get when someone goes that far out from the norm to draw out the simplest of intentions. Tom and Jerry, Looney Toons, The Three Stooges—they all come from that time of theatre when the physical joke ruled. Yet in our contemporary day to day when the ‘norm’ rules—walking, talking, using cell phones—it’s such a small space that we all inhabit.
Enter “The 39 Steps”—a great way to let go, and simply the best entertainment around. Unless you don’t like laughing. Because seriously, if you truly hate to laugh, don’t go…
There is so much slapstick comedy in this show you will see folks falling out of their chairs. Honestly, there was a woman in the audience who was crying… for minutes, mind you. Yes, this is a comedy, but she was laughing so hard she was crying—and continued to laugh/cry through the whole sequence of the scene these two clowns had set up. Her reaction was contagious, as others in the audience joined in the laugh festival… including myself.
We can all hold Zachary Fine and Evan Zes personally responsible for these hijinks—both excellent comic actors, each expertly cast to provide us with optimal laughs throughout the show, and playing so many characters I lost count. Enough can’t be said for their attention to every detail of their scenes, with a tremendous amount of credit to Mark Shanahan, their excellent director!
This Patrick Barlow adaptation is based on the 1935 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock in which a Londoner, an everyman, gets caught up in a murder mystery while being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He sets off on a heroic adventure to stop an organization of spies before he gets put away for the murder. Our ‘everyman’ Richard Hannay, is played perfectly by Joe Delafield. Gosh, how can you not be on his side? He is the man every girl needs to marry: smart funny, well off, savvy and good looking too (evidenced by his own assertion in scene 1). In Hitchcock’s time, Delafield would have certainly been up for the Cary Grant role in North by Northwest. (Kudos to production for that and so many other Hitchcock nods in this show.)
Alicia Kunkle plays every girl Richard seems to run into (and fall for) on his way. Her gorgeous, expressive eyes make each of her characters shine and her grasp of the essence of this comedy is most notable, down to her exacting physicality while impersonating the ladies of the day.
The set design by Charlie Corcoran was terrific and served the actors well, while including the necessary nods to our friend Alfred (Hitchcock). Also, Peter Fogel is to be mentioned for the spot-on costumes.
Don’t miss it. Bring everyone you know. Buy tickets for people as holiday gifts. Have a glass of wine or two beforehand, and get ready to laugh about it for a week afterward. You won’t regret it.
“The 39 Steps” is playing at Mile Square Theatre (1400 Clinton Street, Hoboken) through December 23rd.
CLICK HERE for ticket information…