Doesn’t miss a step

Hi­la­rious co­me­dy clo­sing season with a bang

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

The 39 Steps is a Theatre Lac Brome pro­duc­tion of an Oli­ver and To­ny Award-win­ning co­me­dy. First pro­du­ced in 1996 by the North Coun­try Theatre, Lac Brome’s pro­duc­tion was adap­ted by Pa­trick Bar­low from an ori­gi­nal script by Si­mon Corble and Nob­by Di­mon. The ver­sion gra­cing HVT’s stage, di­rec­ted by Ni­cho­las Pynes, is ba­sed al­most en­ti­re­ly on Al­fred Hit­ch­cock’s 1935 Bri­tish thril­ler of the same name.

The play was in­ten­tio­nal­ly writ­ten for four ac­tors, three of whom im­pres­si­ve­ly as­sume mul­tiple character roles, swit­ching na­tio­na­li­ties, per­so­na­li­ties and even gen­ders in the blink of an eye.

Theatre lo­vers and those who de­light in wat­ching pro­fes­sio­nals de­li­ver bul­let-proof phy­si­cal and ver­bal per­for­mance gold should waste no time in buying a ti­cket to the show that will run un­til Aug. 24.

A man on the run

Hudson Vil­lage Theatre, HVT, is clo­sing its sum­mer season with a hi­la­rious phy­si­cal co­me­dy spy thril­ler star­ring four tru­ly im­pres­sive ac­tors.

The spy thril­ler opens in a theatre where the he­ro, Ri­chard Han­ny, (Mar­tin Sims) finds him­self sea­ted next to a mys­te­rious yet at­trac­tive wo­man. Kno­wing she’s in dan­ger, An­na­bel­la Sch­midt, (Ma­ry Har­vey in one of three roles) en­lists the clue­less Han­ny’s help to dodge a couple of spies who want her dead.

Ta­king the mys­te­ry wo­man to his apart­ment where he of­fers her his bed while he takes a chair in the li­ving room, Han­ny wakes to find him­self in hot wa­ter when Sch­midt turns up dead and he’s sud­den­ly on the run from a wrong­ful mur­der charge.

With his picture plas­te­red eve­ryw­here, Han­ny sets out to prove his in­no­cence while at­temp­ting to solve the mys­te­ry Sch­midt spoke of be­fore she was of­fed. The cross-con­tinent es­cape soon has him boar­ding a train for Scot­land and what en­sues is one of the plays fun­niest and most phy­si­cal­ly im­pres­sive scenes, among ma­ny.

Light­ning-fast ver­bal and phy­si­cal co­me­dy dy­na­mite is mixed in by the play’s fi­nal two cha­rac­ters, billed sim­ply as Clown 1 (Mike Hu­ghes) and Clown 2 (Da­vid Chiaz­zese).

I would add more about the scene’s dia­logue but half of it was drow­ned out by some ear-split­ting bel­ly laughs emit­ting from the wo­man sitting next to me. It was that fun­ny. Sims is so­lid in his li­kable and sym­pa­thy-in­du­cing por­trayal of Han­ny, where he hits all the right notes and de­li­vers a spot-on per­for­mance, while Har­vey’s im­pres­sive per­for­mances as Sch­midt, Mar­ga­ret and Pa­me­la are at turns sul­try, mys­te­rious, be­gui­ling, char­ming, sweet and al­ways fun­ny.

Hu­ghes as Clown 1 is ver­bal­ly adept, quick on his feet and pitch per­fect, and it is his che­mis­try with the unforgettable Chiaz­zese, who steals the show in eve­ry scene with each character that he seam­less­ly segues in­to that ele­vates the play from real­ly good to great.

In an iro­nic twist of fate, I was of­ten re­min­ded of the re­cent­ly de­par­ted Ro­bin Williams and in one scene, of Williams’s turn as Mrs. Doubt­fire, while wat­ching the de­light­ful Chiaz­zese. All in all the four ac­tors de­li­ver per­for­mances that make The 39 Steps a true gem in the realm of pro­fes­sio­nal En­glish theatre.

The 39 Steps will run un­til Aug. 24. For ti­ckets and show­time in­for­ma­tion call the box of­fice at 450 458-5361. The Hudson Vil­lage Theatre is si­tua­ted at 28 Wharf Rd.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE HUDSON VIL­LAGE THEATRE

Mike Hu­ghes (bot­tom row) and Da­vide Chiaz­zese de­li­ver co­mic gold in Hudson Vil­lage Theatre’s fi­nal show of the sum­mer season, The 39 Steps.

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