Thursday, September 08, 2011
Alfred Hitchcock turned over in his grave last night—and applauded
by Larry Geller
I don’t review plays. Well, I did once. I think I wrote a review as one of my first contributions to the college paper. I was copy editor and had access to free tickets.
It was terrible. I learned my lesson.
So I won’t actually attempt a review of The 39 Steps, now playing its Hawaii premier at the Manoa Valley Theatre through September 25. Somehow, though, I feel I have to convince you to go see it. And don’t wait to get tickets, this event is going to be hot as soon as the real theater critics get around to it.
Where else but in The 39 Steps can you see 150 characters—played by four actors? Yes, Elitei Tatafu, Jr., Samantha Stolzfus, Britton Adams and Duncan Dalzell cycle through what in the Japanese kabuki theater is called hayagawari (早替り, or quick changes of costume. That’s only part of it.The play makes magical use and re-use of its props and manages special effects we associate with computer generated imagery in modern movies.
The 39 Steps is based on a Hitchcock movie from 1935. You can view it for free on archive.org here. Don’t peek, though, if you are thinking of attending the play. For one thing, it would be a spoiler. For another, the play is just so much better.
In fact, the Manoa Valley Theatre has put together as perfect a production as I have ever seen. The acting is perfect, the sound is perfect, the effects, the props, the staging, everything, is perfect.
The play originated in England and ran in London in 2006. In 2008 it opened in New York. The Roundabout Theater (we were members when we lived in NYC and my high school English teacher was one of the founders) brought it to Broadway where it ran for 771 performances. And now we have it in Honolulu. The program notes report that it won several awards for artistic and technical achievement.
Look, outside the theater life is real, and often difficult. So buy a ticket, bring a light sweater, go inside, be very happy for a couple of hours, and take the happiness home with you. We did last night. The high lasted for hours.
This is a political blog. I’m glad to have found an antidote. Go and get yours too.
Hey Larry - nice review. Duncan Dalzell is my son. Glad you liked it.
Hope you're doing well.