Monday, 16 March 2015

Boeing! Boeing!, Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch

Boeing! Boeing! is set a world away in the early 1960s when two thirds of the world was a closed book to the remaining third. No mobiles, no rolling news, not even live television from America. Which meant that a randy bachelor could keep three (or more) air hostesses on a string, provided he had access to the flight schedules. These time tables strictly governed where these attractive young women would be at any one time and only he and the young woman concerned knew where she was, so if take offs and landings were on schedule, where was the problem?
Performed on an elegant Parisian apartment set it should have run like clockwork, but it really didn't suit actor Fred Broom as the miscast leading man Bernard. In his cheap shiny tailoring and clearly not at home in the role he struggled with Marc Camoletti's writing translated by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans.
His naive friend Robert was played by Tom Cornish as a super hysterical, body twisting, bit of a maniac, unable to believe the wealth of pulchritude available around him just for the asking or so it seemed.
Les Girls (which how they would often have been described at the time) consisted of American Airlines southern belle Gloria plus Joanna Hickman's dreadfully accented Lufthansa fraulein Gretchen and the luscious Italian Gabriella played by Sarah Mahoney.
The star of the performance, however, with her rapid fire dialogue and knee-high socks was Megan Leigh Mason's snappy, Le Monde-reading Bertha the French cook. Every line perfectly timed, roasted and served up with more than a hint of sauce, and cheek!
Things just didn't really gell under Matt Devitt's direction. Norman Coates's stylish set also clashed badly with the appalling tailoring of the air hostesses's uniforms which were known then for their super chic tailoring.
Remembering just how declasse this comedy cum farce was in the early 1960s when it first arrived on the London stage, it's difficult to see why the Queen's should choose to revive it now. It just wasn't funny, apart from Bertha.
Mary Redman
Runs to March 28 2015. Bookings 01708 443333.

1 comment:

  1. But it can be successfully revived -

    and even last year's small tour managed to keep us laughing most of the time ...