Trinity Repertory Company closes its season with a howling funny production of "Boeing-Boeing," French playwright Marc Camoletti’s 1962 farce about an unapologetic playboy simultaneously engaged to three stewardesses.
Bernard (Joe Wilson, Jr.) is a suave, "Mad Men"-era architect from Paris who truly enjoys being engaged, so much so that he has put a ring on the finger of three different women.
When he first appears, Bernard is bidding farewell to the lovely Gloria (Rebecca Gibel), an American TWA stewardess. The proud bachelor rushes Gloria from his pad, supposedly so she won’t miss her flight. Soon after she departs, fiancée number two appears in the form of beautiful Italian flight attendant, Gabriella (Liz Morgan).
Also present to welcome Gabriella is Bernard’s houseguest, Robert (Stephen Thorne), who is both admiring and envious of his longtime friend’s ability to arrange his schedule with such precision and plentiful activity. Hardly pleased with Bernard’s itinerary is Bertha (Nance Williamson), his flustered housekeeper who begrudgingly yet dutifully changes the menu to match each guest’s ethnic origin.
Despite having gone to such great effort in advance, a wrench is thrown into Bernard’s well-oiled machine when his third romantic interest, the statuesque Gretchen (Amanda Dolan) from Germany, arrives earlier than expected. With Robert and Bertha’s invaluable assistance, Bernard manages to prevent Gabriella and Gretchen from becoming acquainted, until Gloria, whose flight returns to Paris due to inclement weather, poses yet another challenge.
From the moment Gloria initially departs and Gabriella arrives soon thereafter, the interplay on stage is a never-ending vicious cycle of hilarity. The routine, as one lady enters and another exits, is classic, old school comedy, beautifully orchestrated by director, Fred Sullivan, Jr. Although the audience can easily predict the eventual outcome, the waiting game of how long until Bernard gets caught is pure, unadulterated fun.
Patrick Lynch’s stage design bursts with color, especially the apartment’s blue pastel interior, and the airline hostesses’ spot-on uniforms (designed by William Lane) are carefully color-coordinated with the flowers on display.
Wilson is indisputably charming as the philandering Bernard, and his animated performance has equal parts humor and heart. Thorne is magnificent as Robert, the excitable, loyal friend who more than welcomes the opportunity to fly the friendly skies. Both actors navigate the stage with impeccable comic timing where every nervous action and gesture has a purpose, resulting in seemingly endless laughter.
Gibel, Morgan, and Dolan are a delight to watch, and while all three roles are written as caricatures, the actresses revel in the deliberate silliness and are clearly having as much fun as the audience. Furthermore, Williamson’s scene-stealing portrayal of the Bertha is especially amusing. Her flawless delivery, coupled with her towering stature, makes for a brilliant performance.
Trinity Rep’s production of "Boeing-Boeing" is first class. Take flight, sit back and enjoy the ride!
"Boeing-Boeing" runs through May 13 at Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington Street, Providence. For info or tickets, visit Trinity Repertory Company’s website.