Monday, July 9, 2012

cineTREK 4: The 39 Steps

American novelist and poet, Jack Kerouac, influenced others to see the world through a different lens.  In tonight’s parody of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, one can experience the classic Alfred Hitchcock film brought from the screen to the stage with a bit of sass.  With a faster pace, fewer actors, and a spotlight, London’s West End Theater was able to successfully provide an alternate lens, for viewers, through a lively production.

As a film, The 39 Steps was a dramatic black and white film that can only be viewed from the lens of the camera, or in other words; from the eyes of the director, Alfred Hitchcock.  In the lens of a camera, according to revolutionary Soviet film director Dziga Vertov, a camera “shows you the world only the way I (the director) see it” (Berger, 17).The play was clearly not seen from the same pair of eyes as the film’s view, but more of in a modern day look.  Since the film was slower paced compared to the performance, there was room left for interpretation and suspense, allowing The 39 Steps to produce an overdramatic piece.  The play took full advantage of the space left for interpretation and overdramatic scenes, as it presented a completely twisted and comedic version of the original film.  For example, because the play is made up of merely four talented actors, the play seemed like it was fast forwarded, allowing the audience to experience the main points of the story line.  Moreover, through alternate lens, the scene where the spy is invited by Richard Hanney to join him in his bed is presented differently.  In the film, she casually accepts his innocent invitation.  However, in the play, the woman is mistaken by thinking he is asking for more and takes it as a flirtatious invitation.

Although, the film was very dramatic, the theatrical version was dramatic as well.  The attempt of the actors to create the dramatic scenes was what made the performance even better.  Now the film is brought to the audience live and right before their eyes.  In the scene where the people are on the train, the actors continuously move to the same beat like by waving their clothes to create gusting winds.  The overall actions make it very entertaining.  Again, because there are four actors only, the desire to see how they will perform each scene keeps the audience at the edge of their seats.  It is quite impressive since the film can only do such things by creating suspense.  In the theater, the actors successfully brought the audience in and out with them through every scene with complexity in working the stage rather than following through the camera lens.  The use of the stage and props, as well as the cleverness in playing multiple characters allowed the audience to focus in one direction: forward.  When watching the film, focus is directed in one spot as well, but with the theater, the transformation of scenes takes place before the eyes.   This concept provides an additional theatrical aspect that contributes to an entertaining performance.

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