Last weekend I took off for Paris…sort of…courtesy of Boeing-Boeing, the 1960s airline farce crafted by the late French playwright, Marc Camoletti, and directed in Vancouver by David MacKay.
Architect Bernard (Jonathon Young) is convinced that, thanks to his Paris flat, three air hostesses, well-spaced flight schedules, and Berthe (Nicola Lipman), a caustic elderly French maid-cum-housekeeper, his life is first class.
Gloria (Kimberley Sustad), Gabriella (Moya O’Connell), and Gretchen (Colleen Wheeler) sporting the appropriate TWA, Alitalia, and Lufthansa bags with matching passionate pink, blue, and green, uniforms and exaggerated American, Italian, and German accents…plus engagement rings…keep Bernard entertained, and Berthe busy.
When Robert (Andrew McNee) jets in from small town U.S. midwest for a visit, the plot thickens.
To the delight of the audience, the European weather takes a turn for the worse, faster international aircraft put Bernard’s careful scheduling in jeopardy, and even Berthe can’t keep ‘America’, Italy’ and ‘Germany’ from eventually all landing in ‘their’ Paris flat simultaneously.
Robert, who lands in Paris as a self-professed one-woman man in the market for a quiet married life, begins to reassess his philosophy of life based on the flexibility of international airline schedules,
combined with a plethora of inbound and outbound air hostesses.
Both men easily handle their roles with wit and panache, but Berthe steals the hearts of the audience.
Shuffling in and out, changing photographs and menus to suit the romantic arrivals and departures, she dishes out dollops of less than diplomatic wry dialogue in French accented English.
Her body language alone speaks volumes, and contrasts cleverly with the very effective use of physical comedy dispensed by her boss and his pal.
For me, Gretchen, the Lufthansa gal, could have been slightly less strident and Germanic, even though exaggeration was the order of the day.
Boeing-Boeing will be parked in Vancouver at the Stanley Industrial Alliance stage until February 24.
Whether you see it in Vancouver, or wait until it takes off for the suburbs if the show goes on the road during the year, you’ll chase the winter blahs with good old-fashioned chuckles.
The bulky printed airline schedules reminded me of how far we’ve come with today’s pretty slick on-line check-in, and drastically reduced flying times.
As a former air hostess – minus the fiancé in Paris – the pencil skirts, fitted jackets, white gloves and caps brought back many memories.
On stage, or off, the airline business is still a lot of fun. This cast demonstrated that classic comic timing never goes out of style.
Ticket prices start at $29 including taxes.
– Call the Arts Club Box Office at 604-687-1644 or visit www. artsclub.com. Also surf facebook.com/ArtsClub, www.blog.artsclub.com or follow on Twitter @theArtsClub.