North by Northwest

Audiences were treated to a thrilling New Year’s Eve to kickstart 2019 in true 1950s glamourous style with a special performance of North by Northwest followed by an exclusive Post-Show Party at Adelaide Festival Centre.

Adapted by Carolyn Burns and Directed by Simon Phillips, North by Northwest is a witty adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic spy thriller of the same name released in 1959.

In the leading role of man on the run is acclaimed Australian actor Matt Day, who dons a thick American accent and smug demeanour in his performance as New York advertising executive Roger O. Thornhill. After being abducted by a gang of suspicious thugs who insist his true identity is that of a man named George Kaplan, Thornhill’s life descends into chaos as he flees across three cities to evade police, detectives and even a crop-duster.

Starring as the illustrious and mysterious Eve Kendall is Adelaide-born actress Amber McMahon, who Thornhill encounters whilst on the run before being swept off his feet and into her web of secrets.

South African-born Australian actor Jonny Pasvolsky delivers an ominous performance as the main antagonist simply known as “Vandaam”, who commands a team of corrupt thugs and orchestrates many assassination attempts upon Thornhill.

Supporting the main trio is an ensemble cast of nine multitasking, multifaceted actors including Abigail McKern, Christen O’Leary, Leon Cain and many more, all of whom seamlessly transition between multiple roles to create intricately choreographed crowd scenes set in offices, city streets and train stations.

A unique, prison-like set consisting of layers of interchangeable framework transforms into a variety of settings across three cities, whilst 1950s period antique furniture is converted into the most unexpected objects such as taxi cabs and train carriages.

1950s “dynamation” collides with 21st century technology through the use of live streamed video projections coordinated by a highly skilled audio visual team comprised of designer Josh Burns and specialist Richard Dinnen. On either side of the stage are two blue and red “green screens” clearly visible to the audience’s eye, where the ensemble cast use miniature models such as planes, trains and automobiles to create live streamed video backdrop projections for each scene. Putting a humorous spin on old fashioned “special effects”, particularly notable scenes include a crop-duster sequence as well as a climactic final scene on Mount Rushmore.

Almost sixty years after its initial release, North by Northwest remains a timeless Hitchcockian classic filled with suspense, mischievous humour and deadly espionage that has successfully made the leap from silver screen to stage.

Words by Tayla Giles



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