Review - Boeing Boeing
Paris, 1962. Bernard (John Dorney), a successful architect, has a very complicated love life. His three fiancées, Gloria (Isabel Della-Porta) , Gabriella (Nathalie Barclay) and Gretchen (Jessica Dennis), work for different airlines with different timetables. With the help of his maid, long-suffering Bertha (Jo Castleton), Bernard has somehow managed to keep all three women blissfully unaware of the others' existence. With meticulous attention to the details of flight times, he arranges his love life around arrivals and departures while Bertha changes the sheets, the photos and even the menu to maintain his appearance of being a one woman man.
When old school chum Robert (Paul Sandys) arrives, Bernard relishes the chance to show his wide-eyed friend his first-class operation at work. Unfortunately, schedules change, flights are delayed and a new turbo-charged Boeing aircraft is introduced; all of which disrupt his usual schedule of duplicity and bring forth the farcical turmoil of trying to keep each fiancé separate from the others.
As things continue to unravel further, Bernard shifts from Mr Cool into Basil Fawlty - he becomes more manic, digs deeper holes trying to wriggle out of situations and, were it not for Bertha and Robert, he would probably be laid in a foetal position in the corner. The similarity to John Cleese's hotel manager is wonderfully cringe-inducing yet never strays too far into the stupidly silly, meaning the final scene and payoff remain just on the right ide of believable - a perfect balance.
The ladies are all brilliant - individual characteristics, accents and mannerisms are perfectly delivered without being pastiches - and very quickly they show that despite Bernard's ideas, it is they who are really in control.
Set and costume designer Bek Palmer has created a phenomenal visual treat; the Paris apartment is framed perfectly to look like a cross between airport departure lounge and a penthouse city centre, very 60's futuristic and yet still very modern for today. The 7 doors immediately create anticipation of a traditional farce and the minimalistic furniture ensures there is nothing to detract from Bernard's descent from cool, controlled calm into frenetic, frantic failings.
Artistic Director Michael Cabot said "I'm very excited to be working on this wonderful piece with a terrific cast and creative team. Boeing Boeing is one of the longest running and most successful farces ever written for the stage. In terms of comedy, it really has got it all - larger than life characters, an improbable plot and an abundance of comic mayhem. It promises to be great fun, but I also hope we can bring a contemporary twist to the story - the women in the play are definitely no pushover and Bernard will be getting a very powerful taste of his own medicine."
This is the final flight of this current tour so grab your tickets now, sit back, buckle up and enjoy the ride.