Sunday, November 19, 2017

Moonbox Productions Presents The Delightful British Comedy "The 39 Steps" - Through December 9th

There is nothing quite like physical British humor to tickle the funny bone. Such is the case with Moonbox Productions current offering of "The 39 Steps" by Evan George Patrick Barlow based on the Hitchock film, which in turn was based on a novel by Scottish novelist John Buchan. Director Allison Olivia Choat has wisely chosen to invite the audience into the creative process, encouraging us to suspend disbelief, and to go along with the four actors playing multiple roles, as well as very obviously serving as stage hands to make set changes in the middle of a scene. There is much physical humor and many sight gags, and the cast has been well chosen to carry out the hilarity with cheekiness and aplomb.

Kevin Cirone plays the straight man, Richard Hannay, a 30-something British man in the midst of a midlife crisis, who muses about how dull and meaningless his life is - until a femme fatale by the name of Annabella Schmidt (a sultry Sarah Gazdowicz) shows up and we are off to the races. Mr. Cirone and his dashing pencil mustache are the thread that ties together a picaresque series of adventures in a London music hall, along the rails, dangling from a bridge, and trekking across the heather-covered and fog be-shrouded hills of the Scottish highlands. Matthew Zahnzinger plays more roles than I can count - male and female - and each character is given a distinctive accent. Mr. Zahnzinger's mastery of arcane dialects is worth the price of admission. His counterpart is the equally adept Bob Mussett, whose mousy turn as Mr. Memory is a highlight, as is the scene in which Zahnzinger and Mussett portray two superannuated Scottish men acting as hosts for a political rally.

Bob Mussett and MatthewZahnzinger
as a pair of Scottish innkeepers
"The 39 Steps"
Moonbox Productions
BCA - Plaza Theatre
Through December 9th
This is a play that is not really plot driven, but which delivers its value by drawing the audience into the sheer silliness of the presentation. The actors are clearly having a ball telling this outlandish tale, and we cannot help but be swept up in the spirit of the piece. After the play, a friend of mine remarked: "Wasn't it fun just to be able to laugh in light of all of the heaviness we have been dealing with lately?" How true!

Set Designer is John Paul Devlin. Lighting Design is by Jeffrey E. Salzberg, Costume Design by Erica DeSautels, and Sound Design by Dan Costello, who must be singled out for the haunting bagpipe cues. Daniel Blackwell is the Dialect Coach.

One of the things I love about Moonbox Productions is their commitment to partner with local charities for each show that they produce. The current partnership is with Y2Y - Young Adults Uniting To End Homelessness. Located in Harvard Square, Harvard students operate a homeless shelter for youth who would otherwise be living on the street.  They also offer a suite of educational and social services, empowering the residents to become part of the solution to homelessness among young people. A portion of each ticket sold goes to supporting Y2Y. On line donations are also encouraged. Admission for the performance on the 22nd will be nonperishable food items or a donation to Y2Y.

Y2Y website

Sarah Gazdowicz as Annabella
Kevin Cironeas Richard Hannay
Bob Mussett as Mr. Memory
"The 39 Steps"
Moonbox Productions
BCA - Plaza Theatre
Through December 9th

It is no mystery why this play was such a hit with last night's audience. It is well written, cleverly directed, and flawlessly acted by a quartet of gifted performers. It is worth making the trip to Tremont Street - even if you have to walk more than 39 steps to get to the Plaza Theatre.

For tickets to other performances, follow this link:

Moonbox Productions Website



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