“FARCE: a comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including rude characterizations and ludicrously improbably situations.”
That’s for anyone who thinks the current South Bend Civic Theatre production of “Boeing-Boeing” has anything to do with the airline industry.
Well, actually it does, peripherally, but only in the persons of three stewardesses, each employed by a different airline — Janine Felder-Kahn as Gabriella (Italy), Sarah Myers as Gloria (America) and Dawn Marie Hagerty (Germany) — and Bernard (Dean Palmer) the bachelor architect who is engaged to all three and has no plans for marriage to any one.
“Boeing Boeing” was written by Marc Camoletti in 1962 and enjoyed a multi-year run in London before heading to Broadway in 1965 for a very short stay. Returning to London in 2007 and NYC in 2008, it clocked respectable runs primarily on the Tony Award-winning performance of Mark Rylance.
In this era of #MeToo, its misogynistic “hero” seems out of place, as do the eager females who accept his attentions.
Bernard is living, to quote Ricky Martin, La Vida Loca, until the introduction of a new bigger, faster jet airliner, the Boeing 747, into each of their schedules precipitates a major collision.
With the help of his stoic French housekeeper Berthe (Maureen Wojciechowski), and the timetable of all airlines (there were many more in the early 1960s), Bernard is able to keep track of the landings and departures for each of his “fiancés,” ensuring that their flight paths never cross or even come close.
Of course, it being a farce, the crossing — even criss-crossing — of paths is inevitable, exacerbated by the surprise arrival of Robert (Russell Pluta), an old friend of Bernard’s, who is determined to break out of the monotonous routine of his Wisconsin lifestyle.
No surprise, Robert is impressed by — and envious of — the smooth operation of Bernard’s high-flying operation. Until, that is, he is thrust into running said operation and flight paths become increasingly entangled.
No surprise, being a farce it doesn’t take long for the jet fuel to hit the fan, landing all the “stewardii” in the same place (Bernard’s apartment) at the same time with the same thing on their minds — spending a quiet evening at home with their fiancé.
Of course, “quiet” is definitely not a word one associates with “farce” and the decibel level increases with the opening (and closing) of each bedroom door (there is one for each airline).
Under direction of Alex Bobbs, the sextet of players works hard at keeping all the trajectories as separate as possible. The levels, both physical and audible, escalate in proportion to the nearness of the finale.
Production designer Dutch Weismann has created a large and elegant apartment complete with a stunning view of the Eifel Tower and appropriately sturdy doors. All the on-set art, beautifully done by local artists, is for sale
BOEING BOEING plays through Jan. 28 in the Wilson Auditorium, 403 N. Main St., South Bend. For performance times and reservations, call (574) 234-1112 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays