Dig Baton Rouge

Gaining Altitude

By Tara Bennett

 

The latest production to grace the stage at Theatre Baton Rouge (TBR) is Marc Camoletti’s comedy Boeing Boeing. Who is Camoletti you ask? He would be France’s most frequently performed playwright worldwide, whose jet-setting farce from 1960 ran for seven years in the West End and has been circling the globe ever since.

Boeing Boeing tells the story of Bernard, a playboy who has been juggling his three flight attendant fiancées with the help of his dedicated maid. Like an air traffic controller, he juggles the timetables to ensure that only one of his fiancées will be present in his flat at any given time. One faithful day, Bernard’s friend Robert arrives, and things start to fall apart. With the introduction of a new, faster Boeing jet, and the threat of inclement weather, Bernard’s three fiancées all ascend onto his bachelor pad at the same time, looking to be with their bae. Naturally, hilarity ensues.

Terrific acting by an ensemble of six is what makes this “Boeing Boeing” soar. Director Kevin Harger has a fine cast, led by Nick Dias as Bernard and Blanche Bienvenu as the housekeeper Bertha. They are joined by the three fiancées: Mallory Osigian, who plays an assertive American flight attendant Gloria; Aron Coates, as the fiery Italian Gabrielle; and Eileen Peterson, who plays as the sweet-natured German Gretchen. Finally, Carlos Posas holds the whole play together as the neurotic friend who fends off the fiancées and tries to keep Bernard’s complicated love life intact.

Audiences are going to laugh at this show, and by laugh, they’ll laugh A LOT. It is old school farce at its best, and one of the funniest plays performed at TBR in a while. The play is pure fun, which can be felt through the performances of the cast. Every single actor threw themselves into their roles with gutso, bringing forth great energy needed for the farce.

The three superb actresses playing the air hostesses do it with charm and sex appeal in equal measure. Much of the play’s humor is built on national stereotypes — the fiery Italian, the aggressive American — and the actresses broadly emphasize those qualities without sacrificing sincerity. Each actor’s performance stands out that it was hard to pick just one favorite, though Beinvenu was a delight to watch as the housekeeper who was just so done about having to keep changing the sheets and photographs in the bedroom. Fair warning though, some of the lines may get lost in the laughter of the audience, but the comical onstage action more than makes up for it. Farce is all about zany hijinks after all. A farce is a comedy that uses highly exaggerated situations to entertain its audience and categorized by the use of several doors. The resulting situations are more often than not exaggerated to an extent that ultimately renders them improbable.

How many doors does it take to make it a farce anyway? It varies, but for “Boeing Boeing” the set is pretty much all doors — seven, in fact, to create the Parisian apartment. The number of bedrooms is essential, because farce and sexual misunderstandings are practically synonymous. Add that Camoletti is French and this is the swinging ‘60s, and the stage is indeed set for hilarity.

Since flight attendants were just as glamourous as film stars in the time of Don Draper, it is a natural choice to reflect that in the way the actresses carry themselves in their costumes. The style and colors of Bernard’s lovely ladies’ uniforms evoke the era when air stewardesses spent more time mixing martinis than doling out microwaved meals.

Boeing Boeing plays at TBR through May 10, located at Main Stage, 7155 Florida Blvd. Performances are at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.; another matinee is at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 2. Tickets run for $25, general; $21, subscribers; $22, groups of 10 or more; $20, students. For more info call TBR at 225-924-6496 or visit theatrebr.org.

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