Monday, March 11, 2013


Imagine an Alfred Hitchcock theatrical event that instead of inducing screams of fear, encourages hoots of laughter.  The King of mystery and suspense had a sense of humor so he probably would have enjoyed the spoof that is "The 39 Steps," an adaptation by Patrick Barlow, based on an original concept by Nobby Dimon and Simon Corble, from the novel by John Buchan and the 1935 movie of the same name.

Darien Arts Center Stage, a fine community theatre group in Darien that has recently been reorganized, will be taking audiences on a bumpy ride of adventure weekends until Saturday, March 23.

There's an old saying "Be careful what you wish for" so when Richard Hannay, a resourceful and resiilent David Victor, complains one day in his London apartment that he is bored, what happens next sets him fleeing for his life, accused of murder.  Not so bored any more, eh Richard.

When he attends a performance at the London Palladium, he triggers a series of episodes that begin with a German damsel in distress, Annabella (Melissa Schleier) being murdered in his bed.  Before she dies, she warns Hannay that there is a dastardly plot afoot to smuggle documents out of the country that will lead to disaster for England.  She also cautions him to beware of a man with part of his little finger missing.

Soon Hannay is jumping on and off trains, running from spies, hiding out on farms and in hotels, a fugitive from justice, giving speeches in double talk for unknown politicians and falling in love with Pamela (Linda Gilmore), one of his chief accusers.  A versatile and fleet of foot trio, Geoffrey Gilbert, P. J. Morello and Vic Terenzio, play a plethora of roles from milkman to mothers, adding spice to a veritable stew of characters.  Donna Wyant directs this merry and mysterious romp in Alfred Hitchcock Land.

For tickets ($25, seniors $20, students $15), call the Darien Arts Center Stage, 2 Renshaw Road, Darien at 203-655-5414 or online at  Performances are Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 17 at 2 p.m.

Like a game of CLUE that has run amok, "The 39 Steps" will take you on a humorous homage to Hitchcock and his entire genre of spy films.  Listen carefully for all the movie references that Hannay sprinkles into the plot.

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