Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Tuesday, 2 February 2016
North By Northwest, Feb 1, 2016 ****
Adapted by Carolyn Burns from screenplay
by Ernest Lehman (film by Alfred Hitchcock) Produced by Andrew Kay &
Liz McLean State
Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, until Feb 13, 2016 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Mon Feb 1 Stars: ****
Matt Day & Amber McMahon
Hitchcock’s North By Northwest is a witty chase movie blended with aspy thriller and a naughty romance and this stage
adaptation successfully captures its tone and style.
Burns’ clever script adaptation and Simon Phillips inventive direction create a
deliciously entertaining and often goofy production that is a shrewd merging of
cinematic and theatrical techniques.
production is exciting, funny, imaginative and seamlessly directed by Phillips
and is staged on a flexible, abstract set of stark, metal scaffolding (Simon
Phillips, Nick Schlieper) that provides multiple locations when combined with
cinematic rear projections.
a case of mistaken identity, Roger O. Thornhill (Matt
innocent but rakish advertising executive, is wrongly accused of murder and flees
New York pursued by a ruthless spy, Phillip Vandamm (Matt Hetherington), who is
smuggling government secrets out of the country.
script balances the saucy suggestiveness of Hitchock’s style with original
screenwriter Ernest Lehman’s acerbic dialogue, wry and playful humour and more
privileged and smug Thornhill echoes but does not imitate Cary Grant as he wryly
delivers the abundant smart-alec quips, and he embodies some of Grant’s easy
elegance, sense of entitlement and safe
sensuality that is more cheeky than provocative.
Amber McMahon is
cool and chic as Eve Kendall, the blonde bombshell that cunningly seduces
Thornhill on a train to Chicago then proceeds to deceive and betray him to
Hetherington is suitably oily and self-satisfied as the spy, Vandamm, although
we perhaps miss the gravitas of James Mason’s on-screen depiction.
Llewellyn-Jones is wonderfully distinguished as the slightly ponderous and
quavering Professor while Nicholas Bell is, as always, exceptional as multiple
characters, and Gina Riley is amusing as Thornhill’s haughty, well-heeled but
slightly dim mother.
rest of the ensemble (Lyall Brooks, Lucas Stibbard, Lachlan Woods, Sheridan
Harbridge, Ian Bliss, Leon Cain) peoples the stage with a parade of quirky
characters, crooks, passers-by and assorted oddballs.
Composer, Ian McDonald,
provides evocative music that blends perfectly with Bernard Hermann’s soaring,
dramatic score from the movie.
By using complex stage
lighting (Schlieper), complex film projections and modern blue screen technology
to create special effects, this stage production is able to travel across the
same bold, broad landscapes seen in Hitchcock’s movie.
the illusions of the cinema are on the stage for us so we can thrill to Thornhill
running desperately along an isolated highway pursued by a crop dusting plane
then we can shriek as the plane crashes into an oil tanker.
production succeeds because it channels the sassiness, wit and elegance of
Hitchcock’s 1959 film and references the period of the movie while transforming
it into contemporary entertainment.