My Friends

Arrow Up

Arrow Up
Arrow Down
,
  • Sun
    23
  • Mon
    24
  • Tue
    25
  • Wed
    26
  • Thu
    27
  • Fri
    28
  • Sat
    29
Mother Goose Parade Nov 23, 2014 The largest parade in San Diego County featuring more than 100 colorful and exciting parade entries, motorized floats, marching bands and drill units, and, of course, Santa Claus. 61 other events on Sunday, November 23
 
The Floating Library
A work of historical fiction with a speculative twist
Backwards & in High Heels
Let’s move this time machine to 2014, shall we?
Film
New indie film starring Shailene Woodley tops our coverage of movies screening around town
Film
New Christopher Nolan epic leads our rundown of movies screening around town
Theater
First production by the latest troupe to launch in San Diego leads our rundown of local plays

 

 
Log in to use your Facebook account with
San Diego CityBeat

Login With Facebook Account

Recent Activity on San Diego CityBeat
 
Home / Articles / Arts / Theater /  ‘The 39 Steps’ gives Hitchcock the comic treatment
. . . .
Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013

‘The 39 Steps’ gives Hitchcock the comic treatment

Lamb’s Players production tops our rundown of local plays

By David L. Coddon
theater Robert Smyth (left) and Jesse Abeel
- Photo by Ken Jacques

With all the critical drooling over the oeuvre of Alfred Hitchcock, it’s nice to know that the master of suspense can still be played for laughs. Mel Brooks left no sight gag unturned in spoofing Hitchcock’s films in his 1977 romp High Anxiety; neither does Patrick Barlow in his stage adaptation of Sir Alfred’s 1935 spy flick The 39 Steps.

Four years after being produced at La Jolla Playhouse, The 39 Steps is back, this time at Lamb’s Players Theatre under the direction of Deborah Gilmour Smyth. If you haven’t seen the play, know that any resemblance in tone to the played-straight 1935 movie is strictly accidental. The 39 Steps is a quick-change send-up played by a cast of only four that’s reliant upon unrestrained physical comedy, unashamedly obvious allusions (visual, verbal and musical) to other Hitchcock films and a vaudevillian, devil-may-care attitude.

It’s not the start-to-finish howl it aspires to be. Like the Airplane! or Naked Gun films, The 39 Steps throws so much at you that there are bound to be hits and misses. The man-on-the-run espionage story, meanwhile, never stands a chance against the antics of the inexhaustible ensemble. David S. Humphrey is an elastic-limbed Richard Hannay, the wrongly accused hero, while Kelsey Venter tackles three roles, including the blonde Pamela who helps Richard clear his name. But three parts seems like child’s play compared with the load Robert Smyth (Lamb’s artistic director) and Jesse Abeel carry. Between the two, they portray policemen, innkeepers, innkeepers’ wives, foreign spies—even, in Abeel’s case, the moss, peat and shrubs of a Scottish bog. Smyth’s and Abeel’s lightning-fast changes of costumes and characters are more fun than the Hitchcock bits, which are easy snippets of parody.

Humphrey and Venter’s finest moment arrives in Act 2, when they’re handcuffed together. They pull off awkward twists, turns and grimaces that would make Lucy and Desi, who had at this shtick on TV eons ago, proud.

Truly impressive is how Lamb’s stages a man-on-the-run story with nothing more than props and body language. But after managing Around the World in 80 Days, as the theater did last year, the British Isles must have felt like a breather.

The 39 Steps runs through Sept. 22 at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. $22- $62. lambsplayers.org

Write to davidc@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com.

—David L. Coddon

OPENING

Young Frankenstein: In the musical-theater version of the 1974 Mel Brooks comedy, the grandson of the late Dr. Frankenstein travels to Transylvania Heights to attend to property issues and ends up staying to take over the family business. Opens Aug. 21 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. moonlightstage.com

NOW PLAYING

Company: A musical organized around a series of vignettes that explore the relationships between an unmarried 35-year-old man and his 10 coupled-off friends. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs though Aug. 25 at The Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com

In the Heights: A musical about working-class folks trying to get ahead in a Dominican-American neighborhood in New York City. Through Aug. 25 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. sdrep.org

Sideways: Two middle-aged guys, one who’s about to be married, head to Santa Barbara wine country and find trouble. Through Aug. 25 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org

Simply Sci-Fi: An evening of 10-minute plays with a sci-fi tilt, set in a café, served with coffee and dessert. Through Aug. 30 at The Big Kitchen in South Park. newplaycafe.com

Double Indemnity: In a theatrical version of the 1943 noir novel and 1944 film, an insurance man falls for a sexy dame who wants her husband dead. Through Sept. 1 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

The Good, the Bad, and the I-5: Legendary sketch-comedy gang Second City stages a show for and about San Diego—plenty of rich material here lately, eh? Through Sept. 1 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org

Suds: The Musical: The story of a young woman looking for love in a Laundromat frames a soundtrack of ’60s hits. Through Sept. 1 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org

The 39 Steps: A comedic, four-actor stage version of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film, as if performed by Monty Python, with lots of allusions to other Hitchcock classics. Through Sept. 22 at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead: Tom Stoppard’s existentialist play turns two minor characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet into lead characters. Through Sept. 26 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

The Merchant of Venice: Shakespeare’s play, about a man who borrows money to court a woman, gave us the terms “shylock” and “a pound of flesh.” Through Sept. 28 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Greek forest is alive with fairies, magic potions and the pursuit of love in the opener of The Old Globe’s summer Shakespeare Festival. Through Sept. 29 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

miXtape: Generation X was torn between disillusionment and hope in this cavalcade of music from the 1980s. Produced by Lamb’s Players Theatre, it runs through Sept. 29 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. lambsplayers.org

Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net

Miss Kitty’s Wild West Revue: A saucy, raunchy variety show set in an old-West saloon, presented by an LGBT-centric theater. Runs Aug. 15 through 18 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. diversionary.org

Side by Side by Sondheim: This revue of songs by the legendary Stephen Sondheim serves as a benefit for Cygnet Theatre. Runs Aug. 19 and 20 at The Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com

Simply Sci-Fi: An evening of 10-minute plays with a sci-fi tilt, set in a café, served with coffee and dessert. Opens Aug. 15 at The Big Kitchen in South Park. newplaycafe.com

Thoroughly Modern Millie A Kansas girl flees to New York City in the 1920s and foils an export-slavery ring. Presented by Pickwick Players, it runs through Aug. 17 at C3 Performing Arts Center in Grantville. pickwickplayers.net

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: The MusicalIt’s Shakespeare’s classic comedy in the forest, but with pop music from the 1960s. Presented by Intrepid Shakespeare Company, it runs through Aug. 18 at San Dieguito Academy Performing Arts Centre in Encinitas. intrepidshakespeare.com

You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up! The nationally touring stage version of a 2010 book by comedians Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn about their real-life marriage and family. Through Aug. 18 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. lyceumevents.org

Company A musical organized around a series of vignettes that explore the relationships between an unmarried 35-year-old man and his 10 coupled-off friends.Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs though Aug. 25 at The Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com

In the Heights A musical about working-class folks trying to get ahead in a Dominican-American neighborhood in New York City. Through Aug. 25 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. sdrep.org

Sideways Two middle-aged guys, one who’s about to be married, head to Santa Barbara wine country and find trouble. Through Aug. 25 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org

Double Indemnity In a theatrical version of the 1943 noir novel and 1944 film, an insurance man falls for a sexy dame who wants her husband dead. Through Sept. 1 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

The Good, the Bad, and the I-5 Legendary sketch-comedy gang Second City stages a show for and about San Diego—plenty of rich material here lately, eh? Through Sept. 1 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org

Suds: The Musical The story of a young woman looking for love in a Laundromat frames a soundtrack of ’60s hits. Through Sept. 1 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org

The 39 Steps A comedic, four-actor stage version of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film, as if performed by Monty Python, with lots of allusions to other Hitchcock classics. Through Sept. 22 at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead Tom Stoppard’s existentialist play turns two minor characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet into lead characters. Through Sept. 26 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

The Merchant of Venice Shakespeare’s play, about a man who borrows money to court a woman,gave us the terms “shylock” and “a pound of flesh.” Through Sept. 28 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

A Midsummer Night’s DreamA Greek forest is alive with fairies, magic potions and the pursuit of love in the opener of The Old Globe’s summer Shakespeare Festival. Through Sept. 29 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

miXtape Generation X was torn between disillusionment and hope in this cavalcade of music from the 1980s. Produced by Lamb’s Players Theatre, it runs through Sept. 29 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. lambsplayers.org

Crime Pays A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net

The 39 Steps: A comedic, four-actor stage version of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film, as if performed by Monty Python, with lots of allusions to other Hitchcock classics. Opens Aug. 9 at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org

Macbeth & The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Local teens perform one-hour versions of the two Shakespeare plays. Happens on Monday, Aug. 12, at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

The Spaceman of Ocean Beach: A staged reading of a play by Rick Bollinger about an eccentric character, Clint Cary, who made Ocean Beach his home from the 1960s until his death in 1993. Runs Aug. 9 and 10 at the Ocean Beach Playhouse. facebook.com/spacemanofoceanbeach

Thoroughly Modern Millie: A Kansas girl flees to New York City in the 1920s and foils an export-slavery ring. Presented by Pickwick Players, it runs Aug. 9 through 17 at C3 Performing Arts Center in Grantville. pickwickplayers.net

It’s Just Sex: Three couples get together for some drinks, and, wouldn’t you know it, the inevitable spouse swapping ensues. Through Aug. 10 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. onstageplayhouse.org

The Wizard of Oz: A Kansas girl’s blunt-force head trauma sends her to a colorful land where men are made of straw and tin, lions dance and monkeys fly. Through Aug. 10 at Moonlight Amphitheatre in Visa. moonlightstage.com

Freedom of Speech: Eliza Jane Schneider plays 34 characters in her own one-woman show, which chronicles her travels around the United States in an old ambulance. Presented by Moxie Theatre, it runs through Aug. 11 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. moxietheatre.com

The Rainmaker: A conman arrives at a Depression-era ranch where the cattle are dying and the farmer’s daughter’s hopes of finding a husband are fading. Through Aug. 11 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: The Musical: It’s Shakespeare’s classic comedy in the forest, but with pop music from the 1960s. Presented by Intrepid Shakespeare Company, it runs through Aug. 18 at San Dieguito Academy Performing Arts Centre in Encinitas. intrepidshakespeare.com

You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up!: The nationally touring stage version of a 2010 book by comedians Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn about their real-life marriage and family. Through Aug. 18 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. lyceumevents.org

Company: A musical organized around a series of vignettes that explore the relationships between an unmarried 35-year-old man and his 10 coupled-off friends. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs though Aug. 25 at The Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com

In the Heights: A musical about working-class folks trying to get ahead in a Dominican-American neighborhood in New York City. Through Aug. 25 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. sdrep.org

Sideways: Two middle-aged guys, one who’s about to be married, head to Santa Barbara wine country and find trouble. Through Aug. 25 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org

Double Indemnity: In a theatrical version of the 1943 noir novel and 1944 film, an insurance man falls for a sexy dame who wants her husband dead. Through Sept. 1 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

The Good, the Bad, and the I-5: Legendary sketch-comedy gang Second City stages a show for and about San Diego—plenty of rich material here lately, eh? Through Sept. 1 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org

Suds: The Musical: The story of a young woman looking for love in a Laundromat frames a soundtrack of ’60s hits. Through Sept. 1 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead: Tom Stoppard’s existentialist play turns two minor characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet into lead characters. Through Sept. 26 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

The Merchant of Venice: Shakespeare’s play, about a man who borrows money to court a woman, gave us the terms “shylock” and “a pound of flesh.” Through Sept. 28 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Greek forest is alive with fairies, magic potions and the pursuit of love in the opener of The Old Globe’s summer Shakespeare Festival. Through Sept. 29 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

miXtape: Generation X was torn between disillusionment and hope in this cavalcade of music from the 1980s. Produced by Lamb’s Players Theatre, it runs through Sept. 29 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. lambsplayers.org

Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net





 
 
 
 
 
 
Close
Close
Close