What happens when your three fiancés (unbeknownst to each other) show up at the same time in your apartment? Chaos? World War III?
Or, maybe, you were just attending the French bedroom farce “Boeing, Boeing” at the Covedale Theater.
Bernard (Jeremiah Plessinger) leads the perfect life with a fabulous Parisian apartment and three “Air Hostess” fiancés, all flying for different airlines. Because of their continuous travel and because of a book which details the schedules of each woman, Bernard is able to juggle the appearances of each person at his home without anyone, except his chagrined live-in maid Berthe (Kaitlin McCulloch), being the wiser. In the opening scene, Bernard is hosting Gloria (a pert Texan played by Kelsey Schwarber) for breakfast, Italian Gabriella (Rachel Scardina) for lunch followed by dinner with German Gretchen (Samantha Joy Luhn). The dirty little secret is that Bernard has no intention of marrying anyone, including his three betroths. Predictably, Bernard’s impeccable plan goes awry.
Into this hectic mix enters Robert (CLP newcomer Adam Jones) a long-time college friend of Bernard’s whom he hadn’t seen for years. Robert is a bit eccentric and the equivalent of a French playwright’s idea of an American hick from Wisconsin. (Being from Illinois, I tend to agree with that assessment.) Robert is looking for a girlfriend and is immediately horrified and, simultaneously, seduced by the menage-a-trois which Bernard has created. Throughout the show, Robert functions as a confident, fellow conspirator, go-between and apologist for Bernard’s behavior. Jones’ portrayal of Robert is a major highlight with a combination of physical humor through bizarre gestures, hyperactivity, nervousness and constant dithering plus impeccable timing during the rapid firing dialogue sequences. The performance is reminiscent of a Jerry Lewis character.
One of the few sane characters is Berthe who functions as the semi- moral compass, conscience and partial narrator. She is appalled by the activity but condones it by re-arranging the bedrooms and making different international meals for the revolving door women. She also has some of the best lines delivered with dry, sarcastic wit.
Each of the women have different personalities and are played effectively by each actress. Each has a distinctive accent based upon their nationality which works well.
This is a “modern” play from the 1960’s but carries the hallmarks of classic French Bedroom Farce including absurd circumstances, machine gun fire dialogue, sexual innuendo, broad comic physical humor, slapstick and a penchant for doors. Timing, both physically and verbally, is critical for farce to work because it is easy to, literally, step all over each other, garble lines and overlap speech. Due to the actors and Director Bob Brunner, the play works well and smoothly.
The set is designed by Bret Bowling and is simple but effective. The single set is Bernard’s living room with some couches, tables and chairs as props. The set is very brightly lit with an outside view of clouds, an airplane and the hint of the Eiffel Tower. In addition, there are five doors and a hallway leading to the outside door which we can not see. One staple of farce is the constant and fast entrances and egresses through the doors. Each door is a bedroom (used by the fiancés) and a bathroom. Each of the women end up in a different bedroom as the play progresses.
The costumes (by Allison Jones) represent each character well. Each of the women wear the uniforms of their respective airlines, Berthe wears a traditional maid’s outfit, Bernard is resplendent in a business suit and Robert appears as a nerd with a bowtie and a nondescript sweater.
The play is slightly dated because two of the four airlines mentioned no longer exist. The antics and the cavorting may not play well with the “Me Too” Generation but the audience seemed to enjoy the show. However, I think the collective performance of the actors carry the day and provides a fun-filled and enjoyable evening.
So, how does all this insanity end? Guess you’ll just have to fasten your seat belt, put your tray and seat in the upright position and fly on down to the Covedale Theater for Boeing Boeing running through February 19. The next show is the classic Cole Porter musical Kiss Me Kate running from March 16 through April 8.