North By Northwest Opening Night

Rebecca Varidel
18th Mar 2022

Brilliant, captivating, impeccable!

North By Northwest on the Sydney stage.

Once upon a time in Hollywood there was a clever fat ageing man who wrote and directed a string of classic film noir movies. Alfred Hitchcock was his name and his reputation in film making was so great that he commanded heavyweight stars such as Tippi Hedron, James Stewart and Cary Grant to help him create films such as The Birds, Rear Window and North By North West.

The pledge of the hauntingly familiar musical score by Bernard Herrmann confirms to the audience we are in the right place. From this theme music, and the opening stage credits, the thrilling stage adaption of Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest at the Lyric Theatre Sydney announced its traits.

In his pure acting role, David Campbell is electrifyingly astonishing! Close your eyes at any moment, and you could imagine you are on the original 1959 film set listening to Cary Grant. However, it's not just his voice and the clipped perfection of his consonants and vowels. The switch to acting suits him. David Campbell provided an exceptional and noteworthy opening night performance, with precision to every energetic detail.

For those not familiar with the film, do yourself a favour. Roger O. Thornhill’s uneventful life is turned upside down when he is thrust into a world of espionage, romance and murder. Abducted by thugs who insist he is a government agent named George Kaplan, the harried New York exec is hunted by ruthless spies in a break-neck journey involving the Feds, crop-dusting planes, a blonde femme fatale and a cliff-hanger that has to be seen to be believed. Whichever you see first, North By Northwest, like the film, is a must see in this production on stage.

Joining David Campbell on stage is an acclaimed Australian cast including Helpmann Award winners Amber McMahon returning in the role as femme fatale Eve Kendall, beloved stage and screen actor Bert LaBonté as Vandamm and theatre veteran Genevieve Lemon as Mrs Thornhill. Each are perfectly cast and consigned to their roles, providing the drama we want and expect. Amber McMahon carries that vintage line between intellect and allure to perfection, and is the harmonious counter balance to her male lead. Playing a myriad of characters throughout the production are Nicholas Bell, Berynn Schwerdt, Dorje Swallow, Kaeng Chan, Lachlan Woods, Sharon Millerchip, Tony Llewellyn Jones, Wadih Dona with Caroline Craig, Doug Hansell and Alex Rathgeber.

As a stage show North By Northwest is flawlessly paced, with the thrilling tension of the plot creatively uplifted by unique staging that wedges drifts of unexpected humour into the original story.

The imaginative stage set captures the journey, from the skyscraper canyons of New York City to the Black Hills of South Dakota, drunken car rides down twisting roads, the love affair on the train, to the famous cliffhanger ending on Mount Rushmore. Technology is used adventurously to provide one of the most clever clever clever plays in years.

North By Northwest is playing at the Lyric Theatre The Star for an exclusive and limited Sydney season until 3 April.Photos by Daniel Boud.