does Vintage Hitchcock
Radio play delivers humour and suspense
By Byron Toben
Vintage Hitchcock, a live radio play by Joe Landry was the amusingly droll selection by Dramatis Personae, Westmount’s community theatre, now in its 48th year.
The non-profit group consists of talented amateurs, all decent, a few outstanding.
Their game has been hyped up the past few years with fine professional directors, first with Jacqueline Van de Geer and now with Christopher Moore.
The 12 actors handled 41 roles in the three mini radio plays based on Hitchcock films. Mr Moore also joined them in one role.
The Lodger featured a London reeling under the fear of the Avenger, a mysterious night time killer of a “Jack the Ripper” vein. A certain Mr Sleuth (Clive Brewer) answers the ad of Mrs Bunting (Ellen Rubin) for a room for rent. As he wants only quiet and simple food, his 42 shillings a week is readily accepted by her and Mr Bunting (Rashed Chowdbury).
However, the Lodger’s ranting against singing, dancing, drinking (which would put even Ian Paisley to shame) plus his nocturnal walks raise fears that he himself may be the Avenger. This is heightened when their daughter Daisy (Fanny Dvorkin) returns from University to stay with them.
Sabotage involves a suspected spy operation within Britain. Easy going neighbour Ted Spenser (Christopher Moore) is actually a Scotland Yard undercover agent seeking its identity. He is a friend of local Winnie Verloc (Jenny Chopra) but it turns out her husband, Carl Anton Verloc (Malcolm McRae) is part of the spy chain, manipulated by a traitorous Professor (Ann Elbourne).
The 39 Steps was a big challenge compared to the bravura production of same at the Centaur Theatre last November. However, the little community theatre that chugs along big time was up to the challenge in its intimate Victoria Hall space.
Particularly good was Phillip Dumouchel in the key role of Richard Hannay, wrongly accused of killing Annabelle Smith (Ann Gamsa) who had warned him of a dangerous traitor in Scotland missing one fingertip.
Making his difficult way to Scotland and escaping death by the Professor (Clive Brewer), he encounters Pamela Stewart (Karen Saunder) before finally solving the mystery of the 39 steps, which is found in a music hall performance.
At certain junctures of this radio station set, amusing period commercials were inserted by the announcer. Original music by Roger Jochym fitted the show well. Besides a minor role in Sabotage, stage manager Carly Terreault provided a hectic non-verbal visual presence.
For future plays and more information, visit theatrewestmount.com
Images: Michel Degré
Read also: Remounting a timeless Tremblay masterpiece