The instant you see a stage set that features seven doorways it’s pretty obvious you’re about to watch a farce. The coming and going, just missing a tricky confrontation type of farce where credulity exits through one door while slapstick enters through another.
Boeing Boeing is a comedy written in 1960 by French author Marc Camoletti, set in the Parisian apartment of philanderer Bernard (Robert Fridjhon). Bernard is engaged to three women, all impossibly slim and gorgeous air hostesses, whose existences are kept secret from each other by their erratic working hours. The brilliant Alan Committie and Louise Saint-Claire are privy to the amorous antics, with Saint-Claire playing his grumpy housemaid and Committie turning up as a long lost friend.
Naturally the well-planned aeronaughties soon suffer severe turbulence when flight times go awry and all three fiancées arrive at unexpected times. The secret to enjoying a farce is to dismiss any expectation of sense or snobbish theatrical intellect and just go with the flow. That isn’t difficult once Committie arrives with his excellently timed social gaffes and fabulously funny physical antics. His attempts to sit on a 1960s bean bag are hilarious, and even his pratfalls over a suitcase invoke laughter rather than a groan.
Fridjhon also injects some delightful manic actions into the mayhem as his cool and sophisticated demeanour evaporates under the impossible juggling act. Saint-Claire plays her French maid with no joie de vivre whatsoever, stomping her way around the stage with an almost endearing degree of insouciance.
The air hostesses played by Jo Galloway as Gloria, Nina Lucy Wylde as Gretchen and Bronwyn Leigh Gottwald as Gabriella are uniformly good in their tight, sexy outfits. Wylde’s attempts at a German accent are hopelessly off course, but that just reinforces the element of ridiculousness needed to make any farce fun.
The script is surprisingly intelligent for such a daft show, brimming with some cleverly convoluted sentences as the characters try to extricate themselves from the inextricable.
Director Alan Swerdlow has created a show where the fast-paced timing is absolutely impeccable, and for all the 1960s age of Boeing Boeing, it’s still as funny now as it must have been back then. Just make sure you check in your logic before you take your seat, because that unnecessary baggage will make the journey less entertaining.
Review by Lesley Stones
Boeing Boeing runs at the Montecasino Theatre until May 2. For bookings follow the links alongside.