When is too much of a good thing, too much of a good thing? Is romantic love the most reliable form of love? These questions and more arose in The Highwood Theatre’s production of the classic French farce Boeing Boeing. As directed by Sarah Scott, it’s a fast lane farce with jet set performances.
Written by Marc Camoletti in the early 60s, Boeing Boeing, follows playboy American architect Bernard (David Johnson), who is engaged to three international stewardesses, none of which know of one another’s existence. Bernard seemingly has the ladies’ schedules all figured out, until events conspire (including the advent of a speedier Boeing jet) to bring them all at once to his Parisian flat.
These laughable events kicked off with materialistic TWA airlines stewardess Gloria Hopkins (the wonderful Ashley Zielinski) having breakfast with Bernard on the patio of his flat. After Gloria bade Bernard goodbye as she left for the U.S., Bernard’s nerdy, bespectacled high school friend, Robert (the fantastically funny Louis Lavoie), which he hadn’t seen in “18 years and nine months,” showed up. Robert, a shy Wisconsin bachelor in France to see his uncle, quickly became Bernard’s conscience, preaching that his lifestyle was “immoral,” but Bernard heard none of it; he countered that his life was one of “international romantic bliss!”
Bernard’s over-worked-but-efficient maid, Berthe aka “Bertie” (the excellent sassy Sheila Blanc), helped him keep his hectic schedule together, which included lunch with his “Italian kitten” Gabriella (the lovely Nina Marti), and dinner with Gretchen (Moriah Whiteman), from Germany. Getchen’s decision to spend the next three days with Bernard (thanks to the aforementioned speedy Boeing jets) crashed Bernard’s schedule and threatened to crash his love life.
A flurry of lies, and slamming doors ensued (but thankfully no round-the-couch marathons). As the farcical goings on progressed, there was great chemistry between Lavoie and Whiteman as their characters Robert and Gretchen became more than friendly.
Gloria served as somewhat of a villain in the play, going on about how she expected any husband of hers to work himself to exhaustion and face alimony if he ever left her. It was Gloria’s unexpected return to Bernard’s flat, and her flirty behavior with Robert, that spun the proverbial apple cart several 360°s.
The cast deservedly received a standing ovation. Blanc continually left the audience guffawing and giggling with her masterful comedic timing. Lavoie’s comedic verve brought high-voltage energy to the show. Whiteman’s Gretchen was played with a good mix of vulnerability and German officiousness. Johnson was manic, but likeable as Bernard. Zielinski’s New York City and Marti’s Italian accents respectively, brought a good auditory flavor to the show.
I adored Kevin Kearney’s faux stone patio set, complete with four handsome doors, behind which were fully built bedrooms and a bathroom. Jason Reid did a standout job with Prop Design, including procuring central-to-the-gags TWA and Pan Am travel bags. Tip Letsche did a superior job costuming the cast, including the tweed sports jacket and bow tie she put on Lavoie.
So pack your luggage, take a seat, sip your cocktail, and have a bon voyage into Comedy Land with The Highwood Theatre’s hilarious Boeing Boeing!
Running Time: Two hours and 20 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.