Eleanor Bogart-Stuart, cub writer
Beverly Hills High School Salter Family Theatre
241 Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills.
7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 to Saturday, Nov. 16
$10 students / $15 adults
The theater class previewed “The 39 Steps” on Friday, Nov. 8 in the Salter Family Theater, bringing John Hay Beith’s famed play to life. This Euro-spy novel was originally written by John Buchanan in 1915, and was turned into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935. The preview contained minuscule errors and theater director Herb Hall did a sensational job of really engaging the audience. The witty dialogue perfectly complimented the acting presented by the theater class.
‘30s jazz music broke the silence in the tiny room, and everyone paid attention to the man with the mustache. With comedic timing that was on point, the lead male, Anthony Lofaso, stretches, squirms and wiggles his way out from under the lifeless body of his female friend. The hard-to-please teenage crowd definitely enjoyed Lofaso’s performance, despite the lack of talking present. It’s hard, but rewarding, to find something refreshingly new in a spy story. That’s why seeing “The 39 Steps” is so important.
The play continued like this, every actor holding his/her own weight, and contributing to the laughter in each scene. When little mistakes happened, the actors rolled with the punches, sometimes even literally. Junior Jackson Prince was mistakenly slapped in the face when Lofaso got a little too excited talking to his female counterpart. Prince, Lofaso and the crowd all laughed, and the scene continued. A sign of a strong cast is its ability to adapt and improvise in situations that may not be expected.
The play and the actors really used, and had great control over, their physical humor. A slow motion chase scene using only the actors’ bodies was a great technique to engage the audience. The play’s lack of spoken lines is fascinating and it, coincidentally, really brings out the best in the actors involved. The theater class was also smart when it came to props: a desk and four chairs were used to assemble a speeding car, and even a train was formed out of a row of large boxes.
With such clever dialogue, enunciation is key to getting a joke across to the audience. Some of the actors needed to practice their accent skills so the audience could fully understand the lines.
Overall, the preview was a hit. Even if it’s enough to make a group of teenagers actually laugh, the scenes had some very clever and engaging moments for those looking for smarter humor. Hitchcock’s brand of intelligence mixed with the silly performances make “The 39 Steps” a fun choice for all ages.