The 39 Steps at Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace | Theater review
A talented cast is put through its paces in the spoofy take on Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film.
Continuing its refreshing programming (by suburban dinner-theater standards), Drury Lane shifts from musicals to madcap comedy with The 39 Steps, a classic in earlier forms—most famously, the 1935 film that propelled Alfred Hitchcock’s career and solidified his famous “wrong man” trope. This metatheatrical version, adapted in 2005 by Patrick Barlow, puts a wink-wink spin on the corking spy thriller. Our unflappable protagonist is played by Peter Simon Hilton, a British import with fine comedic timing and perfect straight-man expressions; his scene in a bedroom, handcuffed to unwilling partner-in-flight Angela Ingersoll as she removes her stockings, is a highlight. Paul Kalina and Jeff Dumas play all the other parts; a good deal of the fun comes, in the vein of The Mystery of Irma Vep, from their quick costume changes and absurd hairpieces.
The 39 Steps is a great choice for families: Deliberately exaggerated Scottish and German accents and recurring gags will appeal to kids, while adults should enjoy the nods to other films from Hitchcock’s canon, including swipes of Bernard Herrmann’s unmistakable scores for Psycho and North by Northwest. As pastiches go, it could be wittier, and director David New’s production could be more quickly paced (though it wraps up in two hours). But there’s no denying the talent of the hard-working quartet onstage.