“The 39 Steps,” a Tony Award-winning comedy adapted from the legendary film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, has certainly proved popular with area theater companies. Portland Stage offered a production last fall, and the Hackmatack Playhouse has scheduled a run for later this summer. But right now the comic thriller/farce is paying a visit to the venerable Arundel Barn Playhouse, and it starts the season off on a very high note.

The Patrick Barlow play, set in between-the-wars England, concerns Richard Hannay, one of those fictional “average” guys who turns out to be not so average. Hannay gets drawn into a no-one-knows-quite-what mystery by a femme fatale who is killed in his apartment. He then embarks on a harrowing journey where he encounters all manner of odd characters, sinister and silly – often both at the same time.

A backstage setting and many figurative and literal winks aimed at the audience give the show the sort of over-the-top theatrical attitude that draws everyone in on the fun.

Judging from Friday’s performance, director Gary John LaRosa found just the right quartet of young actors to make the show work.

Matthew Krob, as Hannay, had the dashing, one-eyebrow-raised kind of spirit down perfectly as his character began to relish the intrigue. He became that 1930s leading man as he eluded the authorities in his attempt to unravel the secret bestowed upon him by a shady lady.

Jessica Morgan performed well in the exaggerated range of characters she was given while Robert Rice and Danny Prather went for the laughs as Englishmen, Scotsmen, salesman, showmen, hoteliers and numerous other roles.

This is that fairly rare type of theater piece that succeeds at having fun with theatrical conventions while also paying tribute to how entertaining they still can be.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.