Arrogance, poor planning and ignoring entirely foreseeable consequences pretty much guarantee an increasingly desperate frenzy of activity that can be hilarious to disinterested observers. But enough about the state’s fiscal crisis.
“Boeing-Boeing,” which opened last weekend at Theatre Baton Rouge, is a farce built on all of these ingredients and offers local theater patrons two happy prospects: It is good for quite a few laughs, and it introduces several new faces to the TBR stage.
Directed by Kevin Harger, “Boeing-Boeing” is set in the 1960s, taking place entirely in the Paris apartment of Bernard (played by Nick Dias), a French architect who has crafted what he thinks is the single man’s dream. Through a friend in the travel industry, he has wooed three stewardesses whose international flight schedules have only one of them in town at any given time, which gives his live-in housekeeper, Bertha (Blanche Bienvenu), time to rearrange the bedroom photos and plan the menus. He is engaged to all three, but puts off the idea of actually marrying, seeking to enjoy the freedom and sexual variety as long as possible.
Of course, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist — or an architect — to realize that flights get delayed or cancelled by weather, with schedules written on paper, not in stone. Which is what happens to Bernard, a situation both aided and complicated by having an old friend, Robert (Carlos Posas), in town for a visit.
Since this is a farce, the audience is obliged to not think too deeply about the likelihood that stewardesses get vacations, and that they’re likely to have more of their worldly goods in this apartment, which would make Bernard’s situation harder to manage. Just sit back and enjoy things as they get progressively more manic, and doors keep opening and closing with stewardesses making their entrances and exits.
That is easier to do because the casts gets its parts right.
Dias, one of five TBR Main Stage newcomers in the show, is fun to watch as his brilliant scheme unravels, using excellent physical humor and rubber-faced expressions. Bienvenu gets almost all the straight lines as the dour, tired-of-it-all housekeeper who seems to be the only one keeping her head while the two men are losing theirs, and she delivers them with deadpan perfection.
Each of the stewardesses has a distinct personality. Mallory Osigian brings a New Jersey accent and coquettish charm to Gloria; Aron Biedenharn Coates — the only TBR veteran in the crew — is the temperamental Italian Gabrielle; and Eileen Peterson is the German ingénue Gretchen, who doesn’t quite know how to handle Robert’s advances.
The play runs just short of three hours, and there are some parts of the first act that drag. The second act makes up for it.