THEATRE – NORTH BY NORTHWEST – Festival Theatre – 4K

By Peter Maddern

It is not often that a successful film gets deconstructed back into a play, especially without an underlying text to drive it. But that’s what happens when producers Andrew Kay and Liza McLean take to Hitchcock’s 1959 classic, moving it forward 60 years and keeping it as fresh as ever.

For this version Simon Phillips takes over from Hitch, Carolyn Burns commandeers original screen writer Ernest Lehman’s typewriter, Matt Day becomes Cary Grant and Amber McMahon assumes the role played by Eve Saint Marie.

When New York advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Day) is abducted and later framed for the murder of a man he has never known, the chase is on with Eve Kendall (McMahon) a salacious and cunning femme fatale, maybe teamed with the Professor (Robert Menzies) or maybe with the wicked Vandamm (Jonny Pasvolsky); somewhere in the Cold War friction one side is going to lose one of its finest.

As good as Matt Day and Amber McMahon are, the real star of the show is Simon Phillips and Nick Schlieper’s staging. Making real on the cinematic features of the film has clearly consumed a lot of thought and the outcomes are simply wonderful culminating in their stage recreation of Mt Rushmore. Their unashamed approach provides a layer of levity if not farce that bolsters the tension that is building with the players.

This production first showcased in 2015 by the Melbourne Theatre Company and following this season international opportunities await it. It’s clever, well-crafted and typically great fun for a summer Festival Theatre season.

Kryztoff Rating  4K

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