I try to accentuate the positive in even my most negative reviews, but seeing as how playwright Marc Camoletti is long dead and likely buried far from Newcity’s target readership, I’m going to fly write (right!) into what I care not about 906 Theatre Company’s production of the Frenchman’s play: the play itself. Contrasting the brevity of this 1960 comedy’s original Broadway run with the longevity of its initial London production, an argument for the superior tastes of us Yanks could be made. A tiresome farce centered on a callous Lothario juggling three engagements—each to an internationally disparate trio of stewardesses (pardon my dated jargon!)—“Boeing Boeing” takes too long to set up its comedic premise while jumping too readily into the panic of exposure on which the intended laughs rely.
If I were to deliver a clever review, I would outdo the script itself. Playboy Bernard has devised the means by which to keep track of his cartoonishly American, German and Italian fiancées. His system is based on a misguided faith in the infallibility of airline flight schedules. Ignoring the undeniable advice of his less worldly childhood friend Robert, who immediately recognizes the collision course the ladies are on, Bernard enjoys the fruits of his deception. Inevitably, and none-too-soon for the purposes of the audience’s entertainment, an advance in the speeds of the titular aircraft and a weather delay or two amasses the lasses in Bernard’s Paris pad which they each mistakenly consider their own love nest. All this, and Camoletti doesn’t even menage, I mean manage, a single air-traffic-control pun.
Emma Couling’s direction is sharp and the cast upstairs at Mary’s Attic is game. For a scenario based on frenzy, the script lacks energy but the players inject all they can muster. Once past the excessive exposition, the play depends solely on the relentlessly fevered shenanigans which ensue from Bernard’s increasingly slipping charade. The best moments belong to Christine Arnold as the stock put-upon, above-it-all maid Berthe—who finally initiates her own scheming, turning Bernard’s declining bachelordom to her advantage. I’d much prefer to see this company tackle something more nuanced, like a stage adaptation of the first season of “Three’s Company.” I’m an honest-to-gosh Jerry Lewis fan and I can’t even sit through the 1965 screen version of Camoletti’s bedroom farce starring Lewis and Tony Curtis. I just tried. (Raymond Rehayem)
906 Theatre Company at Mary’s Attic, 5400 North Clark, (210)901-9061, 906theatreco.weebly.com. $15. Through March 8.