Thursday, 22 November 2007

REVIEW: "Boeing Boeing"

(Happy Thanksgiving to all the US readers.)

The romantic era for commercial aviation may have died with Concorde’s grounding, but a glimpse at the glamour is back at the Comedy Theatre as French farce Boeing Boeing continues its extended run.

The set-up could have come straight out of Noël Coward: 1960’s Parisian playboy Bernard has three international air stewardess girlfriends and keeps them apart by rigidly holding to their flight timetables. When the schedules are thrown out of alignment and all three girls show up on the same day, it’s up to sarcastic maid Bertha and bumbling friend Robert to keep everybody safely apart.

Yes, the tropes and inanities of Farce are present, such as reciting timetables and the hapless supporting character making a complete idiot of themselves to prevent that one door from being opened. But honestly? Anybody buying a ticket knows what they’re in for: a laugh out loud work of pre-women’s lib comedy that’s perfect for distracting ticket buyers from rainy afternoons and troubles at work.

The madcap mania is backed by Rob Howell’s swingerrific set: a half-moon living room with plenty of doors to slam and devoid of colour excepting a hot pink kitchen door and a motif of primary coloured dots representing the three girls.

Of course, any comedy can be demolished by a sub-par cast regardless of the script’s strengths. Fortunately, Boeing has survived its cast change with flying colours, and even the mid-week matinee the RZ attended was sharp and spot on with the timing. Television legend Jean Marsh is a worn down woman as sarcastic housekeeper Bertha, pushed to her limits by Kevin McNally’s Bernard. Elena Roger, fresh from Evita has the least to do as the Italian Giselle, but busty Jennifer Ellison is full of life as spunky American Gloria. Still, it is Tracy-Ann Oberman who gets the best lines (and biggest laughs) as dominating German Gretchen.

While Boeing Boeing doesn’t soar to the immaculate heights of brilliance, it provides most of what is advertised: a hilarious performance with a high flying cast.

Where: Comedy Theatre
When: M-Sa @ 7:30 PM, Th/Sa 2:30 PM
How Much: £15-45. The theatre is a minefield of restricted view locations, so make sure to check Theatre Monkey before booking.
Concessions: Seniors can book discounted tickets in advance, students get best available for £17.50 from 60 min. before the show.
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RZ Unofficial “Worth Paying”: £25 for a funny but ultimately forgettable show. You can get decent tickets for that, but also plenty of restricted views.
RZ Other Notes: The RZ is unsure of how restricted restricted view can be re: the pillar problem, but given that the action goes all the way to the edge of the stage, he recommends checking with the Monkey before booking. If you do go, make sure to take your seats early and stay near your seat during the interval as they play an excellent selection of French oldies (original and covers of US/UK songs) during these times. The day the RZ went, the lineup included “Monday Monday” and “It’s My Party”.

1 comment:

Andrew (a West End Whinger) said...

Don't you hate people who carp on about "oh, but you should have seen it with the original cast"?

But, oh you should have seen it with the original cast. Mark Rylance and Michelle Gomez were extraordinary.

But glad to hear that it is still good. Who would have thought a revival of this piece of sexist nonsense would be one of the highlights of 2007? Not us.

But it was.