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Larry Littany Litt
By Marc Camoletti
Translation by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans
Directed by Michael Koegel
Set Design by Katrina Fiore
Phoenicia Playhouse, Phoenicia NY
Reviewed by Larry Littany Litt on 19 October 2019
This hilarious revival of Marc Camoletti’s 1962 comedy is brilliant and charming because of Director Michael Koegel’s insightful and glamorous casting. Boeing Boeing ran for seven years in London. The 2008 Broadway production won a Tony award. Working with local theater professionals he’s woven as tight a web of farce as I’ve ever seen.
With much cunning and guile Bernard, played by David Smilow, makes it seem simple to juggle three women at a time. Bernard’s calculations have him a happy and satisfied fiancé to three air hostesses at the same time. Of course happiness doesn’t last in a farce. Watching Bernard’s breakdown and resurrection is a hysterical journey. Smilow’s facial ticks and near self-destruction are a joy to behold. Better him than me, or any of us.
Living with Bernard at the moment is Gloria, fiancé number one in order of appearance. She’s a New York fireball who eats weird food combinations. Embodied by Caitlin Connelly, Gloria rips the stage apart. All eyes are on her diminutive body and beautiful face. Her comic timing is impeccable. She commands Bernard and Robert, Bernard’s friend who has come to stay in the apartment Bernard lives in with three fiancés.
Wil Anderson’s hyper energetic and at once shy and romantic Robert asks, “How can you do it? Three at once? All in this apartment?” And there lies the problem and foretelling of the future. Bernard tells Robert the ultimate secret, which is so shocking I can’t reveal it here.
Of course Bernard can’t do it all by himself. He is burdened with a necessary but rambunctious French housekeeper/cook Berthe who is also a major wiseass. Daniela Goldberg’s outrageously wry and sly comments are a Greek chorus to the doings in Bernard’s household of sex and deception. She holds our attention whenever she speaks. She’s the voice of wisdom and perhaps an unusual sanity.
Gabriella is the fabulous Italian fiancé who shows up unexpectedly. Christa S. Trinler plays her as a loving dominatrix who gets what she wants. She can because she’s beautiful and full of that Italianissima way that makes men want to melt and eat too much pasta. Trinler kept her cool and accent even in the most challenging comedic passages.
However when Gretchen the German air hostess, played by Geneva Turner, arrives just bounced off a delayed flight, the interaction really begins. She brings an operatic Teutonic presence that rattles the Paris apartment. She’s impetuous and hysterically funny. Turner moves across the stage like one of Wagner’s Ring Cycle heroines. Just beautiful to watch her absorb Robert’s life.
But what of Bernard? When all three women are in the apartment together then there’s real farce. Poor Bernard. Poor Robert. Ah but what can be better than true love? Especially when the couples are happy. And the demanding housekeeper gets a raise?
The inventive set design by Katerina Fiore is actually one of this door slamming farce’s important characters. Fiore references Robert’s apartment as a sixties sex playground right out of Playboy Magazine. Which is what this comedy is all about.
What does it all mean? Of course true love leaves us happy. Unless we’re trying to juggle three women, or men at the same time. Then Boeing Boeing is a moral lesson for our times. Don’t miss this stunningly funny revival of a classic comedy.
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