Majestic Reader's Theatre productions sometimes require only scripts, a small stage and little or no props, allowing the actors' talent to shine.
This especially rings true for the cast members in "The 39 Steps," says director Richard Wagner.
"I think the highlight is the fact that we're doing so many accents, and some of the people are playing so many characters," Wagner said.
The comedy, written for the stage by Patrick Barlow, will have two performances Sunday in the Majestic Lab Theatre.
"The 39 Steps" was originally a novel by author John Buchan in 1915. It was adapted by Alfred Hitchcock into a mystery-thriller film in 1935. The playwright Barlow wrote a four-actor stage version in 2005, flipping the genre to a comedy.
"I would call it a high-camp comedy," Wagner said. "They emphasized the comedy. The story stayed the same."
The story follows Richard Hannay, played by Gary Prince, an ordinary man who finds himself on the lam after helping a woman who is murdered in his apartment. To clear his name, Hannay must locate a deadly group of spies called the 39 Steps. He races through the streets of 1930s London to the moors of Scotland to keep government secrets out of the wrong hands.
The three other cast members portray multiple characters Hannay encounters during his adventure. Karen Wohlwend plays three different women: Annabella Schmidt, Pamela and Margaret, all of whom have romantic feelings toward Hannay.
"Two of the characters are called the Clowns or the two Clowns, and they play any number of characters. I haven't counted them," Wagner said.
Nikolai Kassatkin and Rory McDaniel are the two Clowns, who portray several characters — essentially every other person in the play, from milkmen and underwear salesmen to cops, Wagner said.
The director said the play is performed in various accents.
It is set in the British Isles, so the actors speak in a dialect called the Queen's English, he said. Cockney, Scottish and German accents are also spoken by the actors.
Wagner thinks audiences will be impressed by the efforts of his cast members.
"They're all good actors, but the two Clowns are exceptional," he said.