In a 2008 review in The New York Times, a thoroughly delighted Ben Brantley described Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps as a show that "flies lightly into an ether of escapism." The comedy, adapted by Patrick Barlow from Hitchcock's 1935 film, has a lot of the lines from the film in it, but the play is also an example of the sort of delicious theatricality that can only happen on the stage. In the first place, all the characters (there are more than 150) are played by four actors. And they move the simple set pieces about to create everything from a speeding train to a getaway car. The story starts when Richard Hannay goes to the theater. A shot rings out, mayhem ensues and Hannay finds himself in the arms of a lovely lady who convinces him that she's a spy. Of course, when she's stabbed in the back, literally, Hannay must find a way of clearing his name. The high-speed high jinks are "absurdly enjoyable" and "gleefully theatrical," according to Brantley. 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Through March 28. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit www.alleytheatre.org. $21 to $80.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: March 10. Continues through March 28, 2010