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Boeing Boeing takes off
Boeing Boeing is a snappy, witty and polished production full of word play and clever timing.
Western Canada Theatre’s first show at Sagebrush Theatre this season is a hit.
Bernard (played by Brett Christopher) has a problem.
It’s simple, really.
He’s a lovable cad with three fiancées who live with him in a flat in Paris in the late 1950s.
They are all “air hostesses,” each working for a rival airline.
He keeps them from knowing about each other by rotating their nights off on a tight schedule.
However, technology is about to toss a wrench into Bernard’s perfect system with the Super Boeing, a faster plane that’s going to throw the timetable off.
Three secret fiancées and we just can’t hate the guy.
He’s like a kinder, gentler Don Draper.
Fortunately, Bernard is likeable enough in Christopher’s capable hands that his Lothario tendencies are more endearing than creepy.
And, what lovely fiancées he has.
There’s Gabriella (Krista Colosimo), the sultry and effusive Italian; Gloria (Alison Deon), the brash and ballsy American; and Gretchen (Tess Degenstein), the sunny yet ‘sturm and drang’ German.
For being three women who are so different and sharply drawn (down to their primary-coloured wardrobes) they are surprisingly nuanced and mercurial in the hands of these gifted actresses.
And they all rock a bathrobe.
Then there’s Bernard’s irascible employee, Berte (Anita Wittenberg).
She’s a French maid unlike any we’ve seen before, in a class all her own.
There is a vague hint of Carol Burnett and some Edna Mode from The Incredibles thrown in — and something uniquely Wittenberg.
Equally unforgettable is Kirk “Triple Take” Smith as Bernard’s old school chum, Robert.
Always affable and charming, Smith’s take on the character is full of the quirky details for which he is quickly becoming known — such as juggling his luggage to great comedic effect.
Did I mention there’s a spit take?
Rumour has it that, unlike many other farces, the stage directions in the script were minimal, leaving the bulk of the crafty physical humour to the talented director and flexible cast.
And this cast plays well together.
Every time someone steals the show, someone else steals it back.
Even the set only adds to the merriment.
It feels aviation-like, right down to the portal window.
It is also super chic, from the brass-and-glass bar cart to the beanbag chair.
The only quibbles I have are small and most have to do with the writing.
Gloria (Alison Deon) is highly under-utilized and doesn’t receive any of the payoffs some of the other characters get.
Speaking of payoff — at the risk of being risqué — the ending deserved more of a climax than the author provides.
Lucky for us we have the talents of Charlotte Gowdy on choreography and Ross Nichol on lights and you get a curtain call that, well, you’ll just have to go to experience it.
WCT has taken to making bold programming choices and this one is bold, too. It is a crowd-pleasing hit that is sure to be a season favourite.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Boeing Boeing has been the most-performed French play worldwide – and for good reason.
Fly, don’t walk, to see this stellar production of a great script while you have the chance.
Reviewer Heidi Verwey teaches theatre at Thompson Rivers University and is
directing its upcoming The Beaux’ Stratagem from Feb. 27 to March 1 and from March 6 to March 8 at the Black Box Theatre in the
directing its upcoming The Beaux’ Stratagem from Feb. 27 to March 1 and from March 6 to March 8 at the Black Box Theatre in theOld Main Building.