By Jade Goodes
Come fly away with The Theatre Factory in their current production of the 1960s play Boeing Boeing by Marc Camoletti. This French farce, adapted for the English-speaking stage, is a hilarious romp featuring a jet-setting cast who help bring this absurdist story to life.
Boeing Boeing centers around Parisian lothario Bernard, who is engaged to three flight attendants, all unaware of each other and Bernard’s infidelities. The women have never crossed paths until one day, an unexpected schedule change brings all three into Bernard’s apartment at the same time. Bernard, along with help from his friend Robert and his maid Berthe, must go to extreme lengths to keep the three women from meeting and uncovering the truth.
What stood out immediately about this production was the set and costume design, designed by Matt Mlynarski, Randi Walker, and Sarah Bender.
, respectively. The Theatre Factory has a small but charming space to work with, and I’m impressed with how they can transform it for each new production. The stage was designed as an upscale Parisian apartment. It has the feel of an old 60s television show set, which works well for the period and the atmosphere of the play itself.
The costumes were to die for. I appreciated their authenticity, how they fit the cast, and the characters’ personalities. The costumes looked stylish and chic, and I felt they helped to transport you to the period. I loved that each flight attendant had a designated color and enjoyed watching that color appear throughout all their costumes. I adored Gretchen’s yellow dress with the thigh-high Gogo boots in Act 2. It was a standout look for me, and I thought Amanda Anne Leight looked stunning in it.
Boeing Boeing relies heavily on physical comedy, and overall is a high-energy show which requires a lot of stamina from the actors. While I think the show loses steam at certain points, overall, the actors do a great job keeping the fast-paced nature of the show moving. Two of my favorite performers of the night were Jeff Johnston and Pam Farneth. Johnston plays Bernard’s goofy, clumsy friend Robert. Johnston brings an anxious, erratic, Jeff Goldblum-like energy to the character. Pairing that with his total commitment to the role’s physicality makes him a standout on stage and an audience favorite. Farneth plays Berthe, Bernard’s maid, who is the epitome of the phrase “underpaid, overworked, unappreciated.” Farneth has impeccable comedic timing, and the dry, sarcastic wit she brings to the character made Berthe a scene-stealer. Johnston and Farneth’s performances not only elevated any scene they were in, but I felt they both could be relied upon to keep the show’s momentum moving regardless of what was happening on stage.
My only qualm with this show is the sexist nature of the text. While this play is a farce, and these characters and situations are mere caricatures and over exaggerations of people and situations, it is a show that reflects its time. I found it hard to like Bernard and root for him to succeed in bamboozling the three women. This isn’t to say Sam Brooks’s performance is to blame, as I feel he perfectly captures Bernard’s charm and his playboy, womanizer ways. Bernard is just a difficult character to sympathize with. The show has that feeling of watching a rerun of an old sitcom, where it’s fun and silly, but the ignorance of the time can still be felt and seen. I don’t think this hinders the production in any way, but it makes the material harder to digest.
The Theatre Factory consistently produces quality shows and manages to employ talented people to work on their productions on and off stage. Boeing Boeing is no exception. This show’s cast and crew are working tirelessly to make this show a flying success.
So pack your bags, and fly over to The Theatre Factory to experience this hilariously entertaining production.
Boeing Boeing runs through June 25. Tickets can be found at: http://www.thetheatrefactory.org/tickets/