Written by Scotty Keister
“Boeing Boeing” is known as the most performed French play in history. Written by Marc Camoletti and first performed in London in 1962, it is what was once known as a madcap romp. Its sequel, “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” was written some 25 years later and featured the same two main characters. That show was staged successfully last year at Stages Theatre.
Going in reverse order then, currently at Stages is the prior work, “Boeing Boeing.” The play concerns the libidinous shenanigans of one Bernard, an Englishman in Paris who is juggling three stewardesses in his social calendar, all of whom believe they are his sole fiancé. He does so with the aid of an airline registry which lists all international flights and allows him to plan the comings and goings of his lovers to the minute. This strategy works fine for him until the arrival of the new Boeing super jets with speedy new timetables. On this particular weekend, an old British pal, Robert, shows up for a visit. Robert is sincerely looking for an actual fiancé and is aghast at Bernard’s amoral social life until all three girls inadvertently show up on the same weekend and he soon finds himself an unwitting accomplice. Once he gets a look at all three beauties his morality begins to soften, especially when they start showing him some amorous attention. But the morality of the situation is never an issue in this show. Bernard dismisses the whole notion by explaining, “None of them know about each other, so why would they care?” The central question is how long can the two buddies pull off the deception, with the help of Bernard’s increasingly flustered French maid.
Brain Fichtner and Phil Nieto—as Bernard and Robert—who played the same roles in last season’s sequel, make the whole show work. Without their adroit physical and verbal gymnastics the chaotic gyrations of the plot would fall flat. Alexis Stary, Bryanna Pickford and Michelle Lynn, as the American, Italian and German stewardesses, all share the comedic chores ably and each has their own stellar moment on stage. Amy Lauren Gettys, sporting the best accent in the group as the French maid, is wonderful throughout. The first act starts off a bit slow as the comedy timing needs a scene to get up to speed, but by the second half of act one, when the girls start arriving and Bernard and Robert must spin in ever-tighter circles of deception to survive, the fun really starts. There are a number of guffaw-worthy moments and consistent laughs in between. The show is a well-constructed farce that offers little else to take away aside from the chuckles, but in this case that is quite enough. The chuckles are plentiful.
Andrea Birkholm’s ghastly stewardess outfits seem quite period-perfect and Jon Gaw’s 60’s op-art set also feels just right. The show really belongs to Nieto and Fichtner, whose great rapport and comedy timing almost reminds one of an Abbott and Costello, Hope and Crosby, Martin and Lewis. “Boeing Boeing” runs through June 14, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm at Stages Theatre.
May 8 – June 14