The only thing to throw off the timing of this group of actors was the well deserved roars of laughter from the audience. I’m sure in rehearsal they never knew where those laughs would fall, but they had to know what they were doing was funny. They are going to have to add in a few pauses and holds, or the audience will miss half of the play. I am sure this group will quickly adjust to the right rhythm.
Dexter Brigham could have rehearsed with the laugh tracks from “Three’s Company.” That would have worked to prepare them, since “Boeing Boeing” got as many laughs as the TV show used to get. Brigham pulled off a similar slapstick style of farce that would have made John Ritter very proud, handling the tricky intricacies expected from a farce. Brigham brought together all of the physical elements that make a farce comedy work so well, every spit take, slammed door, prat fall and spilled drink was worked in to perfection.
The play was originally written in 1963. The period costumes, including the girls uniforms made by hand, set the mood and put you in the place and time. The attitudes toward relationships in this play push the boundaries, but is it offensive? Please. This is a farce. It is about extraordinary circumstances, and in the end, everyone gets what’s coming to them.
My personal favorite actor of this season, Drew Arnold, hit his third home run in a row. This time as Robert Lambert, a gentleman supposedly out of his element and fighting for control but quickly finds his stride. The “Don Knotts” of this farce, Berthe, is brilliantly played by Sarah Smith, fueling the comic fire and driving the laughs forward.
Setting the action in motion, Tom Reinholtz, starts off as a cocky playboy in total control and is quickly in over his head. Tom, Drew and Sarah work very well together, keeping the balls in the air and trying to keep control of the situation. Over their heads fly Tom’s three women, Marissa Martinez, Jaime Patriarca and Shannon Hill. Each of them takes their turn at bat and swing for the fences. What all three do especially well is to bring a completely unique point of view and fully developed character. Clearly they were all game for anything and gave it their all.
Festival 56 has been very successful this year and “Boeing Boeing” is the hit of the season. It’s a tight race though, the quality of the productions has been high across the board. You can catch “Boeing Boeing” at the Grace Performing Arts Center through July 19. This show should definitely run longer. I give it a resounding two thumbs up.