If you are looking for a good melodrama, look no further than the Cumberland Theatre’s The 39 Steps. This show offers a little bit of romance, a little bit of adventure, and a lot of laughs. A relatively new script (2005), The 39 Steps parodies the novel by John Buchan and the film by Alfred Hitchcock. It follows the story of Londoner Richard Hannay, who finds himself hopelessly entangled in international espionage where is he pinned as the murderer. Despite the dramatic plot, the cast managed to keep the mood light with cheesy delivery, puppets, and drag. The truly remarkable thing about this show is that it uses only four actors (and the audience’s imagination) to play the numerous roles.
…the show was enjoyable for those looking for an easy evening of laughter and entertainment.
The cast performed with a certain restrained energy, which kept the action constantly moving forward. Hannay was the only role not doubled and it was played by Joseph Bromfield, who delighted the audience with remarkable carriage and diction as he bravely tried to clear his name and hunt down the true murderer. Kelly Strand played the various love interests, switching in and out of various accents and striking poses as the mysterious, German Annabella, the cute, Scottish Margaret, and the fiery, English Pamela. Bill Dennison and James Michael Yuenger played every other role – which was no small feat. From cops to gangsters, aging politicians to lop-sided wives, and everything else in-between, Dennison and Yuenger proved themselves fearless masters of comedy.
The set design featured the iconic red curtains and drapery of the classic theater tradition and a myriad of useful objects, including a set of large trunks that served as beds, benches, and train cars. The costuming was sophisticated and appropriate, yet uncomplicated. Due to the nature of the show, characters were required to change rapidly – sometimes on the stage – but everything went smoothly.
Throughout the performance, the audience giggled and broke into spontaneous applause as the fourth wall was deliberately broken and the pieces stomped upon in delicious triumph. Overall, the show was enjoyable for those looking for an easy evening of laughter and entertainment.
Running Time: 95 minutes with a 15-minute Intermission, during which the audience viewed artwork by Scott Gore – a digital printmaker.
The 39 Steps runs through October 28,2012 at the Cumberland Theatre, 101 North Johnson Street, Cumberland, MD 21502. For tickets call 301-759-4990 or click here.