BWW Review: TAM Season Romps to a Close with BOEING BOEING
The Theater at Monmouth brings its season of French themed plays to a mirthful close with Marc Camoletti's1960s jet-setting bedroom farce Boeing Boeing. The entirely predictable, but nonetheless hilarious comedy about a swinging Paris bachelor and his three stewardess fiancés is performed with energy and élan by the excellent company of actors in a briskly paced staging by Dawn McAndrews.
Translated by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans, Camoletti's play takes its cure from a long tradition of such revolving door farces from Feydeau to the more recent Ken Ludwig. The humor relies on dramatic and verbal irony and broadly drawn characters who are parodies of ethnic types. In a tradition that goes back to Moliere and Beaumarchais, there are the feisty maid Berta, the three sexy stewardesses - one American, one Italian, and one German - and the high-living bachelor Bernard and his more timid but clever companion Robert. The audience is asked only to relax and be entertained because so many of the antics constitute sheer fluff, but even as such, they allow for the appreciation of the sheer technique of the piece. If there is one criticism, it is the length of the script (two and one-half hours plus an intermission)- longer perhaps than the slenderness of the material permits without becoming a bit weary.
Wisely, Dawn McAndrews paces the show at as breakneck a speed as she possibly can and relies on the impeccable timing and verbal and physical agility of her cast to deliver the gags. A slightly disconcerting choice in the production is the less than uniform use of accents. All four women (with varying degrees of success) affect foreign accents to tinge their English, while the two men - clearly identified as Frenchmen - do not. But then, like so much else in this comedy, one accepts the uneven aural tapestry as part of the sheer improbability of the piece.
Jim Alexander creates a serviceable unit set with its white walls and cool modern furniture that nicely blends to the white and gold setting of Cumston Hall. Elizabeth Rocha designs the elegant 60s costumers in trim silhouettes and complementary colors, while Daniel Brodhead's lighting design and Rew Tippin's sound design round out the ambiance nicely.
Christopher Holt makes a convincing and likeable Bernard, deliciously amoral to begin and somehow touchingly convincing in his last act transformation. He uses his expressive vocal and physical range to dynamically color the text and action, giving an overall virtuoso performance. Michael Dix Thomas similarly gives the country friend Robert as convincing an arc as the material will allow as he moves from shy bumpkin to manipulative and mercurial Figaro-like partner in Bernard's schemes. Lisa Woods is a strong-willed, conniving Gloria who hides her aims behind a veneer of Southern charm. Lindsay Tornquist is an earthy Gretchen, loud and boisterous, intimidating and winning by turns, though her attempt at a German-tingEd English is off the mark entirely. Ally Farzetta makes a perfect Gabriella- hot-headed, gesticulating, volatile, and sensuous. In many ways, Wendy Way has the best lines and meatiest character of the play as the crafty, tough talking maid Berta, and she plays each of the rapid shifts with consummate skill, though her exaggeratEd French accent also is uneven, slipping back to English cadences all too often.
For perhaps the first in a very long time, TAM has closed the season not with Gilbert and Sullivan, but with this farce, and the choice is an admirable one. Not only does complement the overall programming of the season, but it brings a generally strong summer to a close with an hilarious burst of energy and fun! Vive la France!
Photos courtesy of Theater at Monmouth
Boeing Boeing runs from September 15-25, 2016 at the Theater at Monmouth, 796 Main St., Monmouth ME 04259 www.theateratmonmouth.org 207-933-9999