By Wayne Allen
October 20, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
Final preparations are underway at the Portsmouth Little Theatre for performances of Alfred Hitcock’s “The 39 Steps.”
According to www.pltlive.com, The 39 Steps is a “mix a (Alfred)Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, and a dash of Monty Python and you have The 39 Steps, a fast-paced whodunit for anyone who loved the magic of theatre.”
“This is an adaptation of Alfred Hitcock’s, 39 Steps. This has been a book, a play, two movies and the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) adapted it into a mini-series two years ago,” said Jason Chaney, who is starring as Richard Hannay in the play. “This is a typical spy thriller set in the 1930s all leading up to World War II.”
Chaney said his character meets a dangerous spy woman, mishap befalls her, then his character is set on the case of the spies.
“In that journey I meet all kinds of people along the way. In the play most of the characters are played by two men, Andy Malliet and Loren Keller,” Chaney said. “They (Maillet and Keller) play about 50 different parts in the play.”
Keller said some of the parts are simply quick exchanges and others are more involved parts.
“It’s definitely fun and interesting for the two people playing the parts and it’s also a challenge keeping everything organized because of all of the costume changes,” Keller said. “On top of all of that, each character has different accents.”
Jim Hayes, Director of the show, said Malliet and Keller are both diverse actors and can do about 800 different voices.
“Sometimes you don’t know who you’re talking to,” Hayes said.
According to a synopsis (www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/steps/synopsis.html) of the play adapted into a movie by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in 2011, “A spy on the run accosts Richard Hannay, a former intelligence agent, in his London flat. The desperate man gives him a coded notebook and then is shot dead by German agents bursting into the room. Hannay battles the intruders and escapes. He returns with a constable, who sizes up the evidence and decides that Hannay himself is the killer.
Hannay is thus plunged into the cloak-and-dagger intrigue that precedes the outbreak of a World War. Pursued by police, but also chased by German agents who want the secret notebook, he makes his way to Scotland, where a German spy ring is executing a plan that will render Britain defenseless against invasion.
Along the way, he is joined by combative suffragette Victoria Sinclair, who at first mistakes him for a liberal politician, but is unfazed to learn that he is an accused murderer and, she thinks, a “delusional maniac” on the subject of German espionage plots.
Dangers and surprises lurk everywhere as Hannay and Victoria try to save Britain in her most perilous hour — none as great as what awaits them at the bottom of the 39 steps.”
When asked why people should come to see this performance Hayes said, “It’s something to do. This show is really entertaining.”
“From what most people have heard about 39 steps it sounds like a pre World War II spy drama, which it is. There is also comedy within the show, because we put our own little spin on it,” Hayes said.
According to Chaney, the cast is made up of all local actors and has been in the works for the last two months.
Show times for, The 39 Steps, will be Oct. 25, 26 and Nov. 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m.
For more information about the Portsmouth Little Theatre or the performances visit, www.pltlive.com.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.