In the theatre, nothing is more fun than a door-slamming farce like Michael Frayn’s Noises Off or Georges Feydeau’s A Flea in Her Ear. Why door slamming? It is because the exact timing of entrances and exits done with maximum energy fuels the comedy. When perfectly done, the effect is a roar of gut-busting laughter from the audience. Little Fish Theatre’s production of the Marc Camoletti’s now classic Boeing Boeing, written in 1963 (translated from the French by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans) and listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the most performed French play throughout the world” (Wikipedia), absolutely fills the bill.
Back then, flight attendants were all women and they were called stewardesses or flight hostesses and the age of jet passenger planes was new and ever improving. There was a romantic image of them as glamorous world travellers and perhaps suspected of less than scrupulous sexual mores, much like the sailors with a girl in every port.
The situation in Boeing Boeing, briefly described, is that of an American architect and inveterate roué, Bernard (Kenny Toll), who is simultaneously engaged to three air hostesses who fly in and out of Paris. He keeps a strict schedule so that the women never meet by accident in his rather large three-bedroom apartment. He is the very image of what feminists would call a self-serving, self-satisfied male chauvinist pig. Sophisticated Gloria (Julie Ek) flies in on an American plane, let’s say Pan American, the Italian spitfire Gabriella (Andria Kozica) works for Alitalia, and the delightfully dimpled, romantically impulsive German, Gretchen (Bridget Garwood), soars the skies for Lufthansa. The giddily self-satisfied architect’s system goes to crap when Boeing Aircraft introduces a new, faster airplane that puts his paramours in town all on the same day. Fortunately he has a compadre visiting, Robert (Justin Joseph), an old friend from Wisconsin, who gets sucked into the disastrous vortex of too much love. Every comedy needs a straight man, and in Boeing Boing the straight man is a woman, Berthe (the Keatonesque Kathryn Farren), Bernard’s long-suffering housekeeper.
Under the fast paced direction of Cylan Brown, Boeing Boeing is a delightful romp that earns enthusiastic laughter and extended applause from the audience. His selection of French songs that played before the curtain and at intermission is delightful and helps set the scene. Costumes by Olivia Schlueter-Corey fit the period and the characters. I especially appreciated Bernard’s three-piece plaid suit. Angel Sandoval designed the set, with lights by Eb Madry, and props by Collette Rutherford. Scott Walewski built the set, Merve Caydere Dobai is the scenic painter, and the whole thing is run by stage manager Kira Sherman.
Boeing Boeing runs through October 21 in rotating rep with On the Verge, or The Geography of Yearning, which opens on September 28 at Little Fish Theatre, 777 South Centre Street in San Pedro.