"Boeing Boeing," Seven Angels Theatre, Waterbury Through Apr. 16
It calls for a proper mind set for viewers to enjoy farce. Do not expect depth or substance. Characters are meant to be cartoons, and plots are outrageous and improbable. The important traits for farce are misunderstandings and cover-ups, doors that open and slam, and a rapid-fire pacing. It is a special kind of comedy genre that goes back to the French plays of earlier centuries.
“Boeing Boeing,” now at Seven Angels Theatre, has those traits in abundance—as indicated by the play’s success in earlier London and New York productions. But it is a modernized, updated farce, thanks to playwright Marc Camoletti, inhabited by airline hostesses and the men who pursue them.
The tale involves Bernard, a businessman living in a Paris apartment, and his three loving women, all beautiful airlines attendants—Gloria, the American, Gabriella, the Italian, and Gretchen, the German. He believes he has no problem deceiving them, letting each, in turn, think she is his “fiancée.” With a flight directory as his Bible, he manages a high-powered juggling act--keeping one in his bed, while the others are enroute to God-knows-where. He also has a caustic French maid on hand, and an old boyhood chum who arrives unexpectedly. Thus the stage is set for disaster—as schedules change and his women arrive unexpectedly.
The Waterbury version does justice to the play and its genre. Director Semina De Laurentis has turned the production into a visual feast. The three flight attendants are clothed in color-coded airline uniforms (short, tight skirts, luscious legs, and long, long eyelashes). Gloria (Liz Clark Golson) in red, Gabriella (Olivia Gilliatt) in green, and Gretchen (Amy Jo Jackson) in yellow are as delectable as ice cream cones. And all three give entertaining performances as the much-put-upon, much-deceived “fiancees.”
In other roles, Gil Brady and Sarah Knapp offer solid back-ups, but it is R. Bruce Connelly who steals the show. As Bernard’s old friend, he arrives on the doorstep unexpectedly—a sad sack of a man. Connelly has the deadpan expression of a Buster Keaton and the timing of a Jack Benny, all of which pays off as he is caught up in the whirlpool of intrigue. Director De Laurentis does an inspired bit of miscasting, as she teams Connelly with Jackson, the German Brunhilde named Gretchen. She towers over him, and their love scenes are hilarious.
The pacing lags on occasion, and one wishes that doors would slam and open more rapidly. But, on the whole, here’s a fine chance to indulge in a time-honored genre, to see what farce is all about.
This review also appears in the Connecticut Post, and on web site nytheaterscene.com