19 February 2009 (Mat)
Flying out of reality!
I love watching a good meaty drama on the stage, looking at motivations, characters and whether or not there are metaphorical messages to be gleaned, something to tell us about how we live – or should live – our lives. Philosophical points to be made. Coming out exhausted, but at the same time morally or spiritually uplifted - I love it!
But at the same time, there is much to be said for simply having a laugh and not having to think too much, just enjoying an entertaining couple of hours in the theatre with not too much to think about on the way home other than the fact that you must go and see more comedies because they make you feel good!
And that’s what Boeing Boeing does. The subject matter of one man trying to keep up with three fiancées without the other finding out and other characters unwittingly drawn into the deception, is classic farce and one of which there have been many variations of over hundreds of years. But if people didn’t enjoy that sort of thing, then people would write more plays about it!
Marc Camoletti's play uses the fact that all three are of different nationalities to get much of its comedy, showing that the Brits will still laugh at stereotypical portrayals of other nationalities despite being told that they shouldn’t. Meanwhile, protagonist Bernard studies the airline schedules to keep the girls apart which makes for a good farcical device. The result of all this of course is much confusion and a lot of running about through doors but thankfully no one loses their trousers! However, as with all of this genre, you just know that it will all be resolved in the end, and of course it is, but I think that the good thing about Boeing Boeing is that throughout, I was never exactly sure how they were going to sort it out.
The three fiancée characters, although somewhat stereotyped, were all well portrayed. Sarah Jayne Dunn was fresh from Hollyoaks and in her first stage role as a glamorous all-American gal was competent and, strangely for the subject matter, convincing, even in her American accent! Thaila Zucci was the gorgeously emotional Italian Gloria, and Josephine Butler’s Gretchen got most of the laughs as a delightfully overbearing German with hilarious pronunciation!
Susie Blake’s years of stage experience were on show in a lovely understated performance as Bertha, the grumpy, deadpan housekeeper who has to fit her own cleaning and cookery around the different nationalities.
Real brothers Martin and John Marquez as the serially betrothed Bernard and his long lost cousin bounce off each other perfectly and the timing of the whole cast was quite breathtaking throughout, matching some of the extreme physical humour and racing plot!
I loved the set – simple, minimal, stylish and white except for the introduction of flashes of three kitschy colours for each girl.
It’s all very silly but funny and pleasurable and if I can steal /paraphrase what a lot of actors say these days when plugging their shows “just what we need to cheer ourselves up in these difficult times”. And if there is a message to be gleaned from this show, well, for me, it’s to go and see some more comedies because sometimes, you’ve just got to have a laugh!
Review – Follies, National Theatre
2 weeks ago