The 39 Steps Closing (Theater and Galleries) The Short List (Theater)

When: Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 26 2012

Based on a 1935 Alfred Hitchcock movie (which was based, in turn, on a 1915 novel by John Buchan), Patrick Barlow's 2005 play can't decide whether it's paying homage to old-fashioned suspense thrillers or making fun of them. With only four actors playing 150 roles, this action-packed tale of murder and espionage could be amusing as well as tense. But David New's production undercuts the nail-biting aspect of things by piling on the physical bits—not just quick changes a la The Mystery of Irma Vep but also self-conscious stage business and intricate slapstick routines. New and company keep us laughing (particularly Paul Kalina and Jeff Dumas, who perform with virtuoso bravado). Still, after a while we don't know whether we're laughing with the characters or at them. —Jack Helbig

Price: $35-$46

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