Photo Credit: Jessica Palopo.

SF Playhouse Stages A Fresh Comedic Production With “Universal Themes”

Now through April 20th, San Francisco Playhouse’s thriller The 39 Steps (that’s the name of an international spy ring) continues to amuse audiences.

This is Patrick Barlow’s adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film, which itself is loosely based on a 1915 novel by John Buchan.

It involves a back-stabbing hit job, a breakneck chase, film noir references,  and four actors playing more than 100 characters.

Susi Damilano piloted the similarly cheeky mystery “Clue” last year, and two of her finest cast members there — Renee Rogoff and Greg Ayers — play the two quick-changing “clowns” in “Steps.”

They’re joined by comic all-stars Phil Wong and Maggie Mason.

Bill English, the theatre’s artistic director notes that as with so many films from the noir genre that Hitchcock set in motion, we are presented with a protagonist who is alienated from himself and others, whose ennui prevents him from having empathy for anyone else:

“And his journey takes him out of alienation toward a capacity for compassion. But the greatest power of The 39 Steps comes from its ability to appeal to such a wide audience regardless of age or culture. With its universal themes of adventure, romance, and heroism.”