Presented by the Lipscomb Theatre Department, The 39 Steps opens Friday evening and stars junior Connor Weaver as the well-intentioned, although slightly misled, Richard Hannay.
This Alfred Hitchcock classic spy thriller features the adventures of Hannay as he encounters double-crossing secret agents, meets incredibly seductive women and gets framed for a murder he did not commit.
“The play cranks everything up to eleven and turns just about every aspect of the story into a parody of itself,” Weaver said. “The villain is delightfully over the top, the romantic interests weave in and out with little to no greater repercussion and the hopelessly complex plot details are hilariously and even blatantly glossed over at times.”
Even with an increased level of satirical comedy, the play speaks volumes to strong themes and elaborate characters.
The play is driven by Hannay, a depressed 30-year-old man looking to spice up his life.
In the midst of the show, he is made to bite off more than he can chew while trying to balance the safety of the world on his shoulders.
“Somehow he manages to grow as a person through it all,” Weaver said. “It’s a tale of intrigue, redemption, courage and lots of costume changes.”
Directed by Lipscomb’s own Kari Smith, The 39 Steps is portrayed as a satire of itself. One of the most noteworthy and unconventional adaptations comes when the audience meets two clown actors who end up playing almost every character in the show.
This leads to several moments that break the fourth wall, where the joke is largely on the actors having to balance everything, rather than the characters’ storyline.
“The show is very unique in itself in how presentational it is and how often it makes an effort to keep the audience aware that it is, in fact, just a play,” Weaver said. “It’s a pretty meta type of comedy as a play, and it ends up making the play very memorable and unique.”
The theatre department presents The 39 Steps as part the continued tradition of showcasing one show each season in the outside amphitheater.
“The amphitheater lends itself to more projection and volume, so the scenes in which I get to be huge and loud and angry and British are just that much more satisfying and fun to do,” Weaver said. “It is, in my opinion, also a great decision to open up the season with a silly, over-the-top comedy to get patrons excited for what’s to come.”
The play is categorized as a melodrama, which adds to the comedy.
“It’s a huge and hilarious show that thrives on the huge and hilarious personalities of the characters and huge and hilarious number of characters there are to begin with,” Weaver said.
The 39 Steps opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Lipscomb’s Flatt Amphitheater and runs September 16-18 and 23-25 at promptly 7:30 p.m.
Individual tickets are $17, faculty and staff tickets sell for $12 and student tickets are priced at $5 each. Several free student tickets are available at the campus box office on a first come, first serve basis.
Photos by Ben Davis