This is one of the most popular plays written by French playwright, Marc Camoletti (b.1923-d.2003). It has been widely performed in French, and in many, many languages actually. This English translation by the late Beverley Cross, who shared the same profession as Camoletti, translated Boeing Boeing back in 1962.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s it was many a little girl’s dream to be an air hostess because the lifestyle and job was viewed to be so glamorous, a time too, when sexual innuendo and blunt indiscretion featured high in comedy. So, this play is, indeed, a product of its time. The added joy however, is that this work encompasses all the elements of a farce and upholds all those century old traditions one would associate with this style of comic art performance.
We are given an improbable situation. Bachelor Bernard (Ben Roddy) has three beautiful fiancees, and, of course, neither knows of the others’ existence. The airline, by which each girl is employed, represents her nationality: TWA, Air France and Lufthansa.
So, the girls are literally poles apart at any one time, which allows Bernard to indulge in the extravagant game play of spending time in the company of she whose timetable brings her back to him, in his flat in Paris, while the remaining two are going about their business in other time zones. Bernard’s housekeeper, Bertha (Anita Graham) is a reluctant participator in his naughty little game, and his visiting friend, Robert (Philip Stewart) due to loyalty and admiration for the best part, quickly engages in it too.
However, Bernard’s smooth operation is amusingly compromised by each and every changing hour of just one day. So we have a good fast-paced plot which ends with all three fiancees being back at the flat by evening time.
All three girls are given reason to leave the stage set through doors into other rooms, out of sight, so that their paths do not cross and to allow the deliberate absurdity of the situation to be played out. Eventually the unlikeliest of all unlikely conclusions is met!
A little slow to start this is. The play really comes into its own when Gretchen, the German air hostess, makes her entry. Stage and TV actress Zoie Kennedy adds spark, leaving no doubt that she can do comedy in equal measure to the many serious roles she has played throughout her career.
There is wonderful physical work from all cast members, including some great interchanges between the two male characters. Robert gets his own fair share of kisses actually, watch as his hair gets wilder and wilder and his mouth becomes smeared with red lipstick!
The Boeing Boeing 2013 tour is nearing the end of its run. The show is at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry until Saturday 23rd March. Two venues follow. Catch it while you can!
*** three stars
Note: Reviewer attended the press night showing of Boeing Boeing at The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry representing Remotegoat Stage. Published online here