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39 problems but a play ain’t one 

Rhys Bevan-John describes the zany fun of four actors playing 100 characters in The 39 Steps.

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The 39 Steps
To February 15
Neptune Theatre, 1592 Argyle Street

"Kinetic" and "joy" are words Rhys Bevan-John uses a lot when he talks about the Neptune Theatre production of The 39 Steps, and that makes sense: the long-limbed, rubber-faced actor is known for his exuberant physicality on stage, and this play makes the most of it.

The 39 Steps is based on a 1915 spy novel. It's about an ordinary man on the run from both police and villains after getting mixed up in a plot involving the theft of crucial military intelligence by German anarchists. It became a 1935 thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The play transforms the movie version into a comedy by virtue of telling the same story using only four actors to portray over 100 characters—everything from children to inanimate objects. "There's a lot of joy in getting to play so many wacky characters," says Bevan-John, adding he and Christian Murray each play dozens of them. "There's a lot of physical comedy, and Christian and I are pretty kinetic on stage."

Bevan-John describes the play as an earnest re-creation of the movie plot celebrating the inherently interpretive nature of theatre. "It takes in the huge scope of the film, but it does it in a way that acknowledges that theatre is theatre. A door on wheels and a couple of tricks can set a scene—I love it when a story is told so playfully and effectively."

Bevan-John expects the joy of the cast and crew will be passed on. "We're all having a complete hoot, and when you get a show with this combination of joy, skill and talent plus a perfect script, you just know the audience is going to have fun, too."


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