39 Wildly Entertaining Steps at Prospect Theater Project
By Summer Krafft
Prospect Theater Project’s production of “The 39 Steps,” originally an Alfred Hitchcock film adapted for the stage in 2005, is a thrilling whirlwind ride of eccentric characters, conspiracy, espionage, and romance. Most notably, the 150 characters in the show are played by a total of four actors, with two “minions” to help move set pieces. In the lead role, playing Richard Hannay, Joel Eddington Morrison is at once cynical, snarky, hysterical, and dashing. His energy does not drop for a moment during the show. Opposite him is Delawna McKinney, playing three different women who all find him irresistible in some way, but shines as being sharp, comical, and irresistible herself. The two remaining actors, Michael Houston and James Kusy are cast as Clown 1 and Clown 2, meaning that they collectively play well over one hundred characters throughout the duration of the two-hour show, sometimes switching from one persona to another in a less than a second, depending on what hat they wear. Their character changes are often clarified by a small costume adjustment, a specific gait or posture, or a differing character voice. Though the leads are strong, the clowns are in no way up-staged by their leads, and both of them manage to steal several scenes with their lightning-fast character switches, particularly Kusy’s appearances as Mr. Magic. In addition to incredibly precise acting, it is important to note the clever direction, the feat of a few minimal set pieces to transport the audience to fourteen different locations throughout Europe on this fast-paced journey, charming music choices, and the multitude of accents these actors oscillate between and execute flawlessly. “The 39 Steps” is an unabashedly silly ride, and some of the best work I’ve seen at Prospect in recent years. I would call it a hit.
“The 39 Steps” will continue playing November 25th and 26th and December 2nd and 3rd at 8:00p.m. and November 27th and December 4th at 2:00p.m. Tickets are $20 general admission, and $10 for students with a valid student ID. Reservations can be made by calling (209)549-9341.