The High School production of The 39 Steps opens with a short clip of a “behind the scenes” with Alfred Hitchcock, the director of the 1935 film adaptation of The 39 Steps. Hitchcock rises from his director’s chair mid scene and walks towards the camera. Moments later a large spotlight falls and crushes his chair, the physical comedy and goofy nature of this clip setting the stage for what was to come.
We are then thrust into the life of Richard Hannay, played by Tristan Pierce (’18), who explains to the audience just how bored he is with his life in London.
To the delight of many in the audience, Hannay decides to travel to the West End to see Mr. Memory, played by Gabriela Wilson (’17), a character who is gifted with the ability to recall any number of historical, scientific or general facts. Mr. Memory is accompanied by Compére, played by Helen Craig (’18). The duo are successfully able to induce laughter from all corners of the auditorium. After performing a hilariously goofy physical ritual, Mr. Memory is able to answer all variety of questions flawlessly with grave amounts of detail.
The performance is scuttled when Annabella Schmidt, played by Aveleigh Baker (’17), fires a pistol up in the air, and accompanies Hannay back to his flat. Her murder that evening entangles Hannay in a complicated mystery where, while on the run, he must attempt to locate and secure important British military secrets.
In his journey north, Hannay runs across several wacky characters including the traveling bra salesmen, played by Eliot Konzal (’17), and Maddie Kolaja (’18), who offer consistent and well received comic relief.
Once Hannay reaches Scotland, he has a short flirtation with a farmer’s wife named Margaret, played by Kenzie Wilkin (’18). The farmer, played by Jack Wilkin (’20), had an energetic and engaging performance. This scene was previewed at a High School assembly on November 18.
Hannay then enters the home of Professor Jordan and his wife, Mrs. Jordan, played by Karthik Balasubramanian (’18) and Hina Effie Ogino (’19), who is revealed to be the secret agent responsible for the murder of Schmidt.
Hannay, now in a race against the clock to stop the Professor from leaving the country with the valuable military secrets, stumbles into Pamela, played by Alex Harrington (’17), who has him arrested by the professors agents in disguise, played by Riley Eileen Steege (’19) and Isabel Rosen (’19). Hannay and Pamela are then hand cuffed together but escape and continue to bring about great merriment as they bicker like an old married couple while they traverse the countryside.
Upon their return to London, the play is concluded in a similar fashion as it began as Mr. Memory and Compére return to make the audience laugh once again.
The 39 Steps was a complicated and well performed play that succeeded at bringing smiles to all those who watched it.
The Friday, November 18 show is sold out but complimentary tickets for the final performance on Saturday, November 19 at 7 p.m. can be reserved online at www.asl.org/tickets.