Screwball Farce Boeing Boeing Mixes Love and Deception
Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
Last weekend’s production of the classic French farce Boeing Boeing, written by Marc Camoletti and dexterously directed by Emma Miller ’15, was both a delightful exercise in character acting and a feather-light, peppy endorsement of monogamy.
The show was not put on by a major theatre group at Kenyon, but was produced by Julia Greer ’15 and Dylan Jones-Tuba ’15.
Boeing Boeing centers on self-satisfied American architect Bernard (Sam Allison ’15), who resides in a Parisian flat with sassy maid Bertha (Katie Moss ’15) and, at separate times, three flight attendant fiancées: Janet (Emma Smith ’16), an American; Jacqueline (Kelsey Hamilton ’15), a Frenchwoman; and Judith (Greer), a German.
Bernard switches the women in and out of his apartment using a pristinely managed book of airline timetables, but his rotation is skewed by the arrival of his old college friend Robert (Jones-Tuba) and several storms over the Atlantic — an apt metaphor for the frenzy to come.
The zany plot, with the three women being shuffled from bedroom to bathroom in ‘their’ flat to a restaurant in the nearby countryside by Bernard, Robert and Bertha set the stage for the actors to display a full spectrum of emotions.
Allison never made Bernard seem loathsome, despite the character’s unabashed polyamory, and he displayed solid acting throughout the play. He believably flipped back and forth from smarmy to sweet.
As Bernard’s housekeeper whose accent changes to match the nationality of each fiancée, Moss sparkled. Moss’ Southern, French and German accents were game, and her sarcasm and winking jabs at various characters were a treat for the audience.
A boisterous and perpetually exasperated (yet thoroughly intrigued) Jones-Tuba, a businessman without a room, rounded out the trio of those in the know of the three-lover scheme; Jones-Tuba was impressive in his train of sentiments — incredulous, fascinated, overwhelmed, love-struck — albeit with nearly too much energy.
The three fiancées, however, stole the spotlight with their disparate but enjoyable personalities, all of whom are initially smitten with Bernard. Smith brought a dainty, snooty charm to the prim Janet, who may or may not have secrets up her sleeve.
Hamilton’s sweet Jacqueline, who was much too tolerant of Bernard’s shenanigans, was a highlight; Hamilton’s flawless Gallic affect was as authentic as her keen performance.
By far the most colorful character in the screwball comedy was Greer’s Judith, who oozed intensity and passion with each word.
Overall, the cast displayed pleasing comedic timing and enough energy to produce several laugh-out-loud moments.
The physical comedy, primarily by Jones-Tuba and Moss, was never over-the-top; this also is a testament to Miller’s deft direction.
The show’s Weaver setting, while unexpected, served well as the cozy interior of Bernard’s apartment living room.
Jazzy Frank Sinatra standards wafted through the air as the audience filed in, helping to place the scene in the golden age of air travel.
At times hilarious and surprisingly saccharine, Boeing Boeing’s cast made the screwball a lovely diversion. This will perhaps set the scene for further great independently-produced theatrical productions at Kenyon in the future.