For a fast, funny, physical farce, The Thirty-Nine steps adapted by Patrick Barlow and based on Alfred Hitchcock’s film adaptation of John Buchan’s novel, directed by Eda Holmes, is fantastic. The somewhat thin plot is enhanced by stunning choreography and the unflagging energy of the four flawless actors. Even the set with its fading proscenium (including balconies) adds to the charm of the piece. Michael Giianfrancesco used just skeletal furnishings to create spaces and evoke place. Particularly pleasing was the door which had “another side” whenever a quick exit was called for.
The performances were splendidly witty and physical challenging, and the comedy was truly well served. Trent Pardy was a delight as one of the clowns and he was outstanding as Mr. Memory. He was a treat as the female half of the Scottish Band B team.
Lucinda Davis gave a splendid performance as the second clown and her rapid costume changes became so much a part of the humour that when she could not possibly be in two places at once, the audience rewarded her conundrum with a big laugh. Her vaudevillian shtick was fabulous, and she had all the panache and style of real vaudeville.
Andrew Shaver gave a delightful performance as the innocent nebbish who gets duped and chased by a mysterious spy ring. His physical shtick was a treat to watch and his mid-Atlantic accent was so Cary Grant.
Amelia Sargisson was stunning. She gave a seriously great take on the femme fatale in the beginning of show, then morphed into the beautiful woman who gets handcuffed to the lead for the middle. There was one scene where her contortions around a steel frame on wheels (while handcuffed) was brilliantly choreographed and splendidly executed.
Eda Holmes directed this with a fabulous sense of physical shtick and a magnificent sense of timing. She has provided us with a delightful comedy to start off her position as artistic director and CEO at the Centaur.
The Thirty-Nine Steps would not have been my choice for this city and it was not Ms. Holmes who chose it. Yet the physical theatre style of the production leads one to believe that there is no form of theatre that she cannot deliver with her extraordinary talent. It is mercilessly cold outside, but I exhort you to bundle up and make the run to the Centaur Theatre.
Thirty-nine Steps is at the Centaur Theatre (453 St. Francois Xavier) until December 10. Tickets and info HERE.