The 39 HatsThursday, October 28, 2010
On the morning of March 9, 2006 a somber and unshaven man came to my Studio. Shawn Macdonald was the subject of Kathleen Oliver’s article for the Georgia Straight which was about Macdonald’s first solo-penned script Prodigal Son the story of Peter, a young gay man whose father is dying. By the time I finished taking the pictures of the intense young man looking into my lens I felt almost suicidal.
You can imagine my amazement upon watching on Thursday night the song-and-dance-multiple-costume-female-male-multiple-hat-slap-stick virtuoso performance by the duo of David Marr and, yes, that somber young man Shawn Macdonald.
The duo’s (up until now I had pigeonholed David Marr as the perfect, boring, stuffed shirt British manservant) antics had the full-house Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage roaring from the very beginning in last night’s Vancouver premiere of (the credits are long so patience please!) Patrick Barlow’s adaptation of John Bucham’s novel from the movie of Alfred Hitchcock with an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon and directed by our very own local buffoon and Falstaffian actor/director Dean Paul Gibson.
Such was my shock at the antics of the dynamic duo that my wife and I refused to laugh in the first act. By the second our guards were down and we roared with the crowd.
Diana Coastworth as an over-the-top middle European agent (and in a few more roles, too) and Martin Happer as Hannay (who visibly appeared more tired as the evening wore out. Was he acting this? Or was it simply exhaustion at watching Marr and Macdonald switch hats at lightspeed? ) rounded out a cast of four. That proves, in this play’s case, that less is definitely more.
Before the performance began I had two nagging suspicions of a play that was going to inject humor in one of my favourite Hitchcock films, the one with the famous long tracking shot on the made up drummer and a film which featured the sultry Madeleine Carroll. I was prepared to hate the play.
But this was not to be as both my wife Rosemary and I left the theatre with smiles as we faced a dark near November Vancouver night.
I am sure that had Lawrence Olivier been present he would have been delighted (jealous, too!) at the female impersonations of Marr and Macdonald. The play, for me had a lot of those Dean Paul Gibson funny moments. While it was obvious that the mention of the rear window was a salute to Hitchcock, I longed for the moment when a nominally padded Gibson would appear somewhere, ever so briefly, to round up the cast of four to an odd five. Pity that did not happen.
Selling women's unmentionables on a train sure beats talking about cricket.
The play, The 39 Steps, is on until November 21.