’39 Steps’ goes at least 39 more for Naples in Gulfshore Playhouse comedy

The Gulfshore Playhouse production of “The 39 Steps” blossoms into such zany comedy we’ll offer some blunt advice: Get to the loo before the play starts so you can howl with abandon.

This version of “The 39 Steps” is neither the early Alfred Hitchcock thriller nor a direct spading of the 1915 John Buchan novel. It’s an adaptation of both by Patrick Barlow that sends the thriller moments into overdrive and milks its British characters for their inner Fawlty Towers. There’s enough slapstick here to sate a Laurel & Hardy fan and enough dry British wit for a post-show martini.

“The 39 Steps” was a thrilling piece of early filmdom as it was, with its hair-raising train chases, escapades across the gloomy Scottish moors and a small slew of assassinations. That was ripe fruit for Barlow, who reduced its myriad characters to four hardworking actors, three of whom take on a bag of disparate comic characters.

Harriet Howard Heithaus, Naples Daily News

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