By Blair Jackson
Featuring a protagonist who wants to “have his cake and eat it too” with three different women, the first scene of Boeing-Boeing had me wondering if the play would successfully take off- or if it would crash and burn in the flames of outdated gender roles.
Using airline timetables to coordinate the schedules of his three fiancées, Bernard (Jim Goza) ushers one woman out of his apartment in barely enough time to welcome the next cheerful, saluting stewardess. Always conscious of the next arrival, Bernard’s interactions with his women are strained and pushy, requiring quite a bit of smooth-talking to mask the truth behind his distraction.
As the play unfolds, Bernard is expecting all three of his fiancées for a separate meal on the same day; and his old pal Robert is in town, searching for an apartment in Paris. Robert is the comic foil to Bernard’s calculated, confident character. Stumbling over steps and words, often in a manner reminiscent of Steve Carell (The Office), Chris Crawford steals the show as the wingman, jester and unlikely Romeo of Boeing-Boeing.
Erika Wilhite shines in the role of Bernard’s maid, an engaging female character who serves both as co-conspirator and saboteur to her employer’s farce. Though in a subservient position, Berta wields her power over the men by withholding her cooperation at critical moments, raising the dramatic and comedic stakes much to the men’s dismay. She is outspoken and often complains of “all the coming and going,” but never betrays Bernard; and in fact, juggles quite a few decorative accessories to make sure the current fiancée finds nothing out of place.
Bad weather and a faster jet engine cause Bernard’s carefully coordinated “international harem” to fall into chaos. The three fiancées prove to be more willful, passionate and wily than Bernard; a twist that allows the play to soar above misogyny and feminism – portraying instead the hilarity and fickleness of love across gender lines.
In an intimate theater, with ushers dressed as flight attendants (who even handed out peanuts), the experience of attending the show was entertaining even before the opening scene. Hilarious and endearing, Boeing-Boeing is definitely a must-see for lovers of romantic comedy.