Printable CopyNORTH BY NORTHWEST
Adelaide Festival Centre Trust
Adelaide Festival Theatre
Until 20 Jan 2019

Review by Fran Edwards

If you are familiar with the 1959 Hitchcock film, you (like many of us) will wonder how it could be successfully transferred to the stage. Well, it takes a sort of genius – probably more than one – to bring a concept such as this to fruition. This is a brilliant piece of theatre with every move of the cast, the set and the props carefully choreographed. It is slick and well-controlled, albeit often tongue in cheek.

Director Simon Phillips has taken the adaptation by Carolyn Burns and given us a production that keeps its audience enthralled. Nick Schlieper’s set and lighting design give the whole a cinematic feel without using pre-recorded action, and the use of much of the original film score adds to this. There are many clever sequences, starting with the titles, and the way it deals with innumerable scene changes, culminating in Mount Rushmore, is fascinating.

The cast (and crew) is a well-oiled machine and provides some stellar performances. In the iconic Cary Grant role of Thornhill, Matt Day recreates the character with all the laconic humour of the original. This is a mammoth role; he is seldom off stage for more than a few seconds and maintains the energy throughout. Amber McMahon makes the Eve Kendall part her own, and the chemistry between these two is as good as Hitchcock would want.

Other members of the cast were also memorable. Johnny Pasvolsky as Vandamn, the role played by James Mason, a very smooth villain; Robert Menzies as the Professor; and Abigail McKern as Thornhill’s mother carried their parts well. Many played several roles and gave strong performances: Tom Davey, Nicholas Bell, Christen O’Leary and the rest of the cast were all of a high standard.

I could try to describe the set in detail and the choreographed way they achieved scene changes, or I could attempt to explain how the ‘high tech’ scenes were delivered in a low-tech way, but you won’t appreciate the fun of it until you see it for yourself. This production is clever, funny and a definite must-see. Oh and look out for the “Hitchcock” cameo early in the piece, a nice way to pay homage!