“The 39 Steps” originated as a Hitchcock movie based on a novel by John Buchan. The movie was adapted for the stage by Patrick Barlow. Locally the play is directed by Steve Combs and is performed by a cast of four people – Jason Liddell, Karen Carr, Howard Patterson and Tommy Jones – performing countless characters.
The foursome brings more laughs in the first act than in a full-length, modern-day comedy movie. In addition to the laughs, the audience will visualize everything expected from a Hitchcock script in this production that is set in England and Scotland in 1935.
Richard Hannay (Liddell) is framed for the murder of Annabella Schmidt (Carr) and finds himself on the run after his photo makes the cover of the London tabloids. During his flight, Hannay encounters a pair of men (Patterson and Jones), posing as detectives, from an underground group known as The 39 Steps.
After a woman identifies Hannay as the man wanted by the police, the two men ask her to go with them; she soon finds herself handcuffed to the suspect. Hannay escapes with the woman in tow. Comedy ensues as they find themselves in a hotel room. It is there she learns about the underground group and Hannay’s innocence of the crime.
The genius of this production is the use of props to create comedy and to tickle the imagination. In many cases, the characters are responsible for the set changes. For example, when one character says they must go to the car, the other says, “what car.” So they arrange chairs to create a pretend car. When they are about to drive away, a steering wheel is tossed from backstage.
Jones and Patterson must also “switch hats” in many scenes, and in one, where more than one of the characters they each play is on stage, they literally switch hats. The pair of actors also bring laughs, and surprises, when they play, and dress as, females characters.
Assisting Combs in directing this production is Liddell. Kelly Scruggs serves as stage manager, Daisy Carr is sound technician, Mike “The Booth Man” Moran operates the lights, and costumer is Bj Farris. The set, which is quite mobile, was built by Moran and Susan Brickley. Stage crewmembers are Frank and Colette Panetta and Heidi Kempton.
The production crew no doubt has a larger role than usual and Combs said it best in his words written in the program: “The production has more than it’s share of fast-paced sound and lighting effects as well as rapid scene changes. The backstage crew deserves mounds of credit for all the unseen support they give our actors.”
The Chetco Pelican Players will present “The 39 Steps” for two more weekends at the Chetco Playhouse, 1240 Chetco Ave., Brookings. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 28, 29, and Nov. 4 and 5, and 2 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 30, and Nov. 6.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for youths and are available at Chetco Pharmacy and Gifts and Wright’s Custom Framing and Art Supplies in Brookings, and New Wave Video, The Book Dock and The Salty Dog Coffee Bar in Harbor. Tickets may be purchased at the door beginning 45 minutes before showtime. For reservations, call 541-469-1877.
For information, call 541-469-1857 or visit www.chetcopelicanplayers.org.