Boeing Boeing. Autumn Season Opener At Harrogate Theatre
Richard Trinder, Editor
Harrogate Theatre has kicked off its Autumn schedule with a hilarious rendering of Marc Camoletti's farce of would-be polygamy and international romance, Boeing Boeing.
Mercifully free of the misogyny and overt groping that plagued the 1960s productions (the film version was billed as the 'Big Comedy of Nineteen Sexty Sex'), Boeing Boeing is typical of the genre: the set is a central living room with multiple doors off, most leading to a bedroom: the comedic skill is often in the timing of opening and closing the doors.
Bernard (Alan Drake), the Casanova character in Boeing Boeing, organises his life around airline timetables and the consequent availability of air hostesses; managing to establish the complete opposite of a girl in every port - several girls in the same port, or flat in his case.
Bernard single handedly redefines the concept of stacking.
His well organised life rapidly falls apart when an old friend (Robert - Phil Stewart) arrives for an unannounced visit and a storm over the North Atlantic causes a rearrangement of international flight timetables. Bernard finds all his girls in the same port, at the same time, and chaos ensues. It's a bit Carry On, but funny nonetheless.
The humour is driven by Katy Dean, Polly Lister and Polly Smith playing a trio of wonderfully over-the-top air hostesses and Phil Stewart exercising his pantomime skills.
This is the first outing for Harrogate Theatre's own brand new Rep company. I'm old (and wise) enough to remember HT's last rep company - some quarter of a century ago. My wife an I would book for entire seasons and see the same half a dozen actors performing six or seven plays. Boring, you might think. But to the contrary, if was a joy to see and appreciate just how talented actors can be, how they can so completely inhabit so many different roles.
Boeing Boeing is an interesting choice as a first outing. The play itself is a bit of a bumpy ride - how appropriate for an airline comedy you might say - the dialogue is uneven and the characters vary between likeable and pointless in a way that's hard to fathom. I'm thinking particularly of Bertha the Maid - well played by Rebecca Wheatley - who has the potential to be linchpin of the comedy but, at times, has the lines of a ranting depressive.
|Also by Richard Trinder...|
|Phoenix Dance, Male Machismo And Ancient Greece|
|They Don't Pay. We Won't Pay|
|Carbon Monoxide Is Deadly - Be Warned|
|The Private Lives Of Harrogate Rep|
|Tosca In Leeds|
This could so easily have been a dull affair, worthy at best. But through some great ensemble acting and resting heavily on skills honed in the holy temple of pantomime, they succeeded in creating a frankly hysterical evening. A cliché I know but it has been a long time since I laughed so much at the theatre.
It will be fascinating to see how the Rep develops in their forthcoming Dial M for Murder and Private Lives. Both completely different from Boeing Boeing, except in one respect - they need great acting.
Based on the evidence so far, we should be in good hands.
Boeing Boeing. Autumn Season Opener At Harrogate Theatre, 5th September 2018, 8:56 AM