Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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May 16, 2013

Review: 'The 39 Steps' is charming fun

Corsicana — “The 39 Steps” is the latest production by the Warehouse Living Arts Center, and it’s simply charming.

If you’ve seen the Alfred Hitchcock version of the movie, you might be ahead of the game, but I hadn’t and so it was all a lovely surprise to me.

Basically, you have this bored guy played by Todd Jones, who gets tangled up in a spy thriller in England sometime around World War II. There are ladies in distress, and double-crosses, and a generous dollop of silliness, but this is one of those plays you need to see because of how they’ve done it. We’re talking five actors portraying about two dozen characters.

Jones plays the lead, Richard Hannay, and he’s the only one who isn’t called upon to portray three or more people.

In addition to putting the actors through their paces, this show also makes a lot out of a little bit in terms of sets. Simple pieces are used to create big scene changes, and it still works, sometimes hilariously.

The audience, which has to use its imagination in places, is definitely in on the joke.

The acting was also a particular pleasure in this play. In addition to Jones, the play also features veterans Frank Means and Mark Bedgood, both of whom showed off their experience to great effect.

Bringing another element to the play are performances by Adam Walthall and Emily Hines. Neither of these young actors are new to the stage, they’ve both been acting in school and in previous productions at the Warehouse, but they’re still fresh enough to throw out things we aren’t expecting.

For example, with the exception of Jones, every actor in this play portrays a woman at some point, and Walthall’s steals the drag show for being funny and sweet all at the same time. Emily is cute and feisty, and her accents are understandable, which is always a challenge in these dramas; Walthall is just having fun, and he brings us along for the ride.

Jones swans and smirks and barely represses his own laughter at times, again, sharing the fun with the audience. Bedgood’s lines are impossible and he acts like it’s nothing whatsoever to reel them off. Frank Means takes things over the top, which is what we’ve come to demand from the irrepressible actor. My favorite of his characters is Mr. McGarrigle, although his Mrs. Jordan is also a hoot.

Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, then next Thursday through Saturday, May 23 to 25. This Sunday’s performance will be at 2 p.m. There is no Saturday performance this weekend. One of the actors wasn’t available, and since each actor’s parts are so complex, understudy is a dirty word.

To get tickets, call the box office at (903) 872-5421.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

 

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