You know you’re silly, right? I’m talking to you Production of The 39 Steps at the San Jose Stage. Yes, you. Silly. Downright, campy, over-the-top silly. Not that that’s a bad thing at all. No, no, you are a welcome smirk upon the face of a girl who is admittedly a hard comedic egg to crack. That being said, you’re so very, very silly. Sil-ly.
This smart, quick, and yes, definitively silly script, is served to its audience by 4 actors, 3 of which play multiple roles rotating in and out, off and on, effectively executing dizzying transitions. They swap hats (literally), deftly navigate various accents, genders and the result is a steady stream of chuckles and the occasional groan. The jokes are constant, witty and overall the humor is some of the hardest kind to pull off. Our 4 actors are equally gifted and well-cast. I particularly enjoyed seeing some fresh faces on this stage that I hadn’t seen before (or in a while).
Movie buffs will certainly enjoy the references to just about all of Hitchcock’s films in this show, but don’t worry, even if you aren’t familiar with Alfred’s extensive works, many of the reference are underlined and bolded with extra silliness in the form of dramatic pauses and special accent music or sound effects. Technically this is a show where so much could go wrong and derail easily, but the tech was all well-designed and expertly managed.
If there were a complaint about this production (there has to be at least one, right?) for me it would probably be the slight inconsistency of the scene transitions. While it could be argued that actors and audience alike could use a breather (the pace is extreme) the decision to break 4th walls and make scene changes part of the “comedy” some of the time and at others partially obscure them with weak blackouts seemed to interrupt the comic rhythm a bit too much for my taste. We see so much of the actors changing the simple scenery already, and are witness to many of the costume changes (in many case some of the biggest laughs for me) I didn’t see the logic or value in ever trying to “break” the scene up. A minor critique in an otherwise enjoyable romp-noir.
Overall, this is a light, fun, chuckle-filled (did I mention superbly silly) alternative option to the regular Holiday theater fare and a well done one at that. 4 jewels out of 5 in the Review Tiara for a… what’s the word… ah yes, SILLY show, well suited to the Stage and the season. The 39 Steps plays through December 20th at the San Jose Stage.