Thursday, 18 December 2008

Boeing Boeing - Liverpool Playhouse

Boeing Boeing by Marc Camoletti
Translators: Beverley Cross & Francis Evans
Director: Matthew Warchus
Reviewer: John Roberts

If take offs are anything to go by then this show isn't the fastest, but once you start flying, and the turbulence hits in, you are guaranteed a riotous evening (if you think that's enough puns already then I can only apologise for what's to come!)

Matthew Warchus directs this touring production of his hit West End revival of Marc Camoletti's french farce about a non marital polygamist Bernard and how through his knowledge of air timetables successfully navigates through three relationships simultaneously with three different air hostess' from three different airlines, and through the help of his chambermaid Bertha things run smoothly enough, until one night Bernard's cousin Robert comes to stay, a freak storm delays take offs at the airport and the fun begins.

Marc Camoletti's script is very funny and sticks close to the typical rules of Farce; the doors, the mistaken identity, the sexual chemistry, but it takes for my liking a bit too long to get into full flight, the first twenty five minutes of exposition drag and lack any real pace, but Warchus manages to keep the audience hanging on the runway long enough before the real speed picks up, and when it does it flies by faster the Concorde.

Rob Howells lavish looking set - with multiple doors is simple and with the added splashes of colour really bring a sixties zing to the occasion, setting the tone and atmosphere with precise landing, even the choice or pre-flight french pop muzak gets you in the mood.

What makes this show a success is the strength of its cast, all pulling in simply perfect performances; Josephine Butler provides us with a terrifyingly strong and brutal Lufthansa hostess Gretchen, Sarah Jayne Dunn brings real sassy sex appeal with her portrayal of American Gloria and Thailia Zucchi ooozes that qualcosa di speciale which makes her Italian character Gabriella the most likable of the three, but of all the women in the cast the strongest performance is given by Susie Blake as Bertha the downtrodden but ever so blunt and dry chambermaid. Martin Marquez makes a devilishly perfect Bernard one can see why so many women would fall for him, but it is John Marquez's performance as Bernards cousin Robert that makes this show first class, with excellent comic timing and wonderfully executed simpleness that really stood out for this reviewer.

This is a fantastic show to end Liverpool Playhouse's Capital of Culture year, and I suggest that if you want to see a first class show at an economy price then pick up the phone and book your ticket now before it takes off to destinations new.
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