‘Boeing-Boeing’ soars in Drury Lane production
By Hedy Weiss Theater Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org June 21, 2013 4:58PM
Nora Dunn and Stef Tovar star in “Boeing-Boeing” at Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook.
When: Through Aug. 4
Where: Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace
Info: (630) 530-0111; www.drurylane.com
Run time: 2 hours and 20 minutes, with one intermission
‘Boeing-Boeing,” now in an aptly zany and breathless revival at Oakbrook’s Drury Lane Theatre, is pure cotton candy — an ideal escapist entertainment for the dog days of summer.
Penned in 1962 by the Franco-Swiss playwright Marc Camoletti (and adapted for the English stage by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans), this whirl of a comedy takes the form of a classic French farce, complete with multiple doors and two men in a state of perpetual high anxiety as a result of a slew of sexual shenanigans. Yet what sets it apart from the usual comedies in this style is its updated (if now retro) setting that evokes “the swinging 1960s.”
True, the posh Paris apartment where the craziness unspools is haute bourgeois. But the fixtures — both human and decorative (applause for Sam Ball’s set, complete with a creamy Mies Van Der Rohe daybed) — are late 20th century. And director Dennis Zacek and his very game cast have gotten the play’s flight patterns just right.
The owner of the apartment where all the insanity unspools is Bernard (Stef Tovar, who deftly suggests growing panic). A well-to-do American architect, he has “inherited” a particularly quirky maid/cook, Berthe (Nora Dunn, a quirky mix of schoolmarm and co-conspirator), who serves up more than her fair share of attitude. Her impatience is certainly understandable, for Bernard is living on the edge — simultaneously romancing (and deceiving) three fetching “airline hostesses.” They include: Gloria (hard-edged Kara Zediker), the American who flies with TWA, Gabriella (glamorous, volatile Dina DiCostanzo), an Italian on board with Alitalia, and Gretchen (Katherine Kaberlein, hilarious as the wildly passionate and physical German woman who works for Lufthansa).
Enter, Robert (Dan Cantor in a sensational performance that is a nonstop showcase of physical and verbal comedy). An old college chum of Bernard’s, who has finally taken him up on his invitation to visit him in Paris, Robert is a seemingly ultra-dorky guy from Wisconsin. But as it turns out, he is either a very fast learner with unexpected potential or a naive genius. And before long, he is not only spinning the revolving picture frame that holds the smiling faces of Bernard’s trio of women with far greater skill than Bernard himself, but he is getting the lion’s share of the perks. These two men are “The Odd Couple” on steroids.
So just how has Bernard managed to keep three girlfriends unaware of each other’s existence, with each convinced she is sure to become his fiancee? Let’s just say that he depends heavily on a little booklet containing the complete schedule of international airlines’ arrival and departure times at Orly Airport.
Of course no airline schedule can predict weather delays, cancelled flights and the changing plans of the female of the species. So mayhem is in the making. And “Boeing-Boeing” lets you watch it all from a seat in first class.