Boeing Boeing at West Walls Theatre from August 2013
Written by Marc Camoletti
Directed by Lexie Ward
"One of the best nights out I've had in a long time."
"My sides are literally aching for laughing."
"You'd never know it wasn't professional."
"Best thing I've seen."
These were just some of the comments I overheard in the foyer after the hysterically brilliant Boeing Boeing came to a close. And I can't find myself disagreeing with any off them.
Boeing Boeing by Marc Camoletti is farce at it's most traditional. There's a man; Bernard (in farce it's always a man it seems. I'd love to see a female-led script one of these days) burdened by a gigantic lie that he will do anything to cover up. In this instance it's his three fiances; American Janet, French Jacqueline, and German Judith, all airline stewardesses enabling him to cunningly organise his life around their respective timetables ably assisted and equally hindered by his butler Thomas and the arrival of his best friend Robert. When a storm grounds all planes farcical high-jinks ensue as Bernard and Robert do everything in their power to prevent the women from ever meeting - a clever trick if you can pull it off in an apartment with no fewer than six doors.
A traditional farce needs a strong, constantly on the ball cast and a director with the knowledge and confidence to keep the action tight, pacey and smooth. Fortunately the Green Room production had both in spades. Director Lexie Ward didn't miss a single beat of action, the rhythm of each scene was full of pace to keep the action moving but had the space where necessary to ebb and flow allowing each character room to make their presence felt.
The cast were superb and all had individual moments to shine. Michael Spencer as Bernard started out all charm and charisma, effortlessly explaining his 'flawless system', only to veer toward a man on the edge of a nervous breakdown when the glass house around him began to shatter. As his accomplice, James Sparks delivered the performance of a lifetime, the explosive energy and pace brought to Robert kept the wheels of the plot turning without any shred of hesitation on the audiences' part. As butler Thomas (a part very effectively gender swapped for this production) Seb Coombe brought a dry wit and wry eye to proceedings, his one liners always finding their mark.
The three stewardesses, while only being fleshed out by the writer as far as the international stereotypes will extend; an earnest but ambitious American, a sensual and sultry Parisian and a scarily efficient German, were each given strong, memorable performances by Alison Hellings, Lexie Ward and Caroline Robertson respectively. Hellings was sweet with a ruthless edge as Janet, Ward sexy and manipulative as Jacqueline and Robertson absolutely hilarious as subtle-as-a-brick Germanic Judith, the somewhat Allo' Allo' Esq accents of the latter two only adding to the general hysteria.
As the old cliche states comedy is all a matter of timing and this production is perhaps one of the slickest shows I have ever been fortunate enough to watch. A sublime treat for not only fans of farce, but for fans of theatre full stop.