Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Triple 7 - Boeing-Boeing - Theatre Review

Boeing-Boeing - Longacre Theatre - Broadway, New York, NY
Written by Marc Camoletti, Translated by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans, Directed by Matthew Warchus

It's a silly comedy, one of those with a bunch of doors (7 in this case) where people run in and out from. It's full of broad caricatures, sex jokes and stereotypes, and on paper, it shouldn't work, but goshdarnit if the amazing cast of Mark Rylance (former artistic director of The Shakespeare Globe taking a far less serious turn, Angels & Insects), Bradley Whitford (The West Wing), Gina Gershon (Bound), Mary McCormack (the new show In Plain Sight, The West Wing), Kathryn Hahn (Crossing Jordan) and Christine Byranski (the upcoming Mamma Mia, The Birdcage) and director Matthew Warchus don't use every ounce of energy they have to make it work.

While there are some slower moments and a bit of a slow start, once those engines are running, the play takes off (pun intended) with a bit of turbulence after intermission, but then it glides on nicely until the brilliant megamix closing dance number/curtain call (choreographed by Kathleen Marshall).

Other than the cast, I wanted to see the show because it's about an architect who dates 3 flight attendants (or air hostesses as it's known during the 1960's set play) simultaneously without their knowledge, but of course, that all comes crumbling down when an old friend comes to visit.

For those of you who know me in real life, you know there's a joke in there about me somewhere (and no, I don't date three people at the same time. That's not the joke. I'm not that kind of man (but I wish I were. badum boom)). So of course I HAD to see it! And I'm glad I did. While it's not the most mind blowing piece of theatre or even the funniest I've ever seen, it's solidly entertaining and silly and makes for a really good uplifting mood enhancing experience. Which I needed.

It's not a great play, or even has particularly clever or intelligent comic zingers, but the cast milk every bit they can on the simplistic set.

Mark Rylance is supposed to be the true revelation here as Robert, the friend who drops in unannounced, but I've been of fan of his since Angels & Insects and have had a crush on him since, so its no surprise to me that his deadpan reactions to the craziness that surrounds him makes for the most basic and effective use of comedic timing.

I've also had a crush on Bradley Whitford and he makes for a decent straight man Bernard at the centre of the play.

I've loved Mary McCormack from the intelligence she seems to exude in every movie and TV role she gets, even in dumb films, but she is UNRECOGNIZABLE here as the J-uhhh-Maaaahn Air Hostess Gretchen who claws and paws her way around the set, dominating both the boys and her scenes and tearing apart the script and spitting out zingers like cake at a diet clinic.

I'm also a fan of Gina Gershon and she does a wonderful job as the sexy, seductive Gabriella from Italy, and I keep forgetting that she plays comedy just as well as her normally strong dramatic roles that she's probably more known for. It's fun watching her trip up, fall over, get messed up, slammed in the face with the multiple doors and essentially bounced around the semi-circular set all while attempting to hold her own feminine power.

If there is one weak link, it could be Kathryn Hahn, who while very funny, I think she might have overplayed the American Flight Attendant Gloria. There were rumours Sarah Jessica Parker was being courted for this play and I assume she would have played the American Gloria and I think she would have played it very differently, with a bit more subtlety in a very non-subtle play. Still, Hahn over-gesturizes everything right from the start, the rest of the play caught up with her and by the time all 3 women start showing up at Bernard's apartment at the same time, things really get flying and overblown, and it totally works!

Finally, the always reliable Christine Byranski plays Berthe, the poor maid who must endure all the shenanigans while trying to keep her boss' secret safe. While the role itself doesn't showcase Byranski enough, she uses every moment she has on stage and infuses it with sarcasm and hilarious dissatisfaction.

There's a nice simplicity in the colour palette, with yellow, blue and red running rampant in the costumes and the set (with nicely placed hanging lights and a circular carpet) representing the three airlines the ladies work for; Lufthansa, Alitalia,and TWA. I love the simplicity in the molding that cuts across the upper wall zooming from one point to another (like an airplane taking off).

Boeing-Boeing is just as it sounds, bouncy fun that makes you forget about all the ills of travel, as you relish the sexy memories of that night you had in Paris (you naughty naughty traveler!).

Boeing-Boeing - Longacre Theatre - Broadway, New York, NY - ***1/2 (3.5 Stars out of 5)

A note on seating: Since I'm cheap, I usually do the cheapest deal, but while there are $20 rush seats, they are located in the box seats on the sides but due to the configuration of the set, you will miss all that's happening with the doors on your side which in this play, can be quite important.

You would rather purchase the $26.50 seats in the Balcony instead because it's quite a high rake and thus gives a good central view.

What the box office DOESN'T tell you though is that there are poles about 2 rows ahead of the cheapest section (in the next price level up so they aren't immune either. In fact, the poles are right in the leg area which seems awkward). They are thin ~4" poles but irritating if you're directly behind them.

So, at least for Rows E and up in the balcony (and I'm guessing the poles are in Row C so this affects Row D too), Seats 101 is good, 102-104 are behind the poles, 105-108 is perfectly central with a great view, 109-111 are behind a pole, and 112's aisle seat is fine again.

On the side sections, Seats 2,4,6,8 and the flip side 1,3,5,7 are fine, then there's a pole to block the views of the next three to four seats (10,12,14 and 9,11,13?), and then the rest to the far sides are fine again.

And if you're willing to pony up a bit more money because you're an investment banker or a lawyer, you should first pay your architect more money, tip your flight attendant, then you can go here for the Promotional discount coupon code for a deal on tickets (because I know you bankers and lawyers are rich, but ruthless (:P)!)

Photos by Sara Krulwich/NYTimes and Joan Marcus


Laura said...

I happened upon this blog by chance and I'm totally in love. You have great taste in entertainment and your reviews are excellent! I'm bookmarking and I'll be linking from my blog.

Vance said...

Thanks! My blog is my love letter to the entertainment I love and the people who love the same thing! ha! (everyone else is just plain wrong then!)

Uh, reading your blog and uh, we DO have the same taste!

Linz McC said...

I had the same problem with the seating. I didn't sit in the box seats and did the $26.50 ones. But they were far right in the orchestra. And we didn't see anything happening on the right side of the stage.

My faves were Mark Rylance and Mary McCormack. It seems we agreed. Except, I found the opening scene really awkward, which may be attributed to the Kathryn Hahn thing.

I really need to put up my post, but I am so behind (and swamped with junk to do).

Vance said...

Yah. The opening was like. Uh, is this going to be funny? Hahn seemed WAY too over-the-top but then I guess everyone else became so o-t-p to her level that it was fine later on!