Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Boeing Boeing - Theatre Royal, Brighton

Boeing Boeing by Marc Camoletti
Translator: Beverly Cross
Director: Matthew Warchus
Reviewer: David Saunders

I arrived at the Theatre Royal on Bank Holiday Monday looking forward to a riotiously funny evening to ease me back into a working week. Unfortunately I have to say I left the theatre feeling somewhat short changed.

The premise of the show is the stuff of the classic sex farces of the late fifties and early sixties. A man living in Paris is engaged, to three different airlines hostesses from three different airlines. His life is moving nice along and he is juggling the ladies until changes in the flight schedules ensure things descend into farce.

The text by Marc Camoletti has not aged well and in this translation by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans we are given a text which is very much of its time. The jokes feel laboured and at times clunky. The idea behind this piece should always be to deliver the work at the fastest pace possible and to ensure that if the audience have not enjoyed the joke that has just gone by that there will be another shortly along that they will. This production sadly for me was not able to fulfil this element.

The performances were at times inconsistent and some of the casting to me was a little ill fitting. In this ensemble there needs to be a thread of believability. Martin Marquez as the juggling playboy lacked the easy charm that this sort of role requires. As his cousin John Marquez failed to get the words out with sufficient punch and at times seemed to struggle with the odd choices that had been made for the role. Susie Blake as bedraggles maid Bertha had little to do and was underused in a piece where performers of quality are really needed. As the first of the girls to arrive Sarah Jayne Dunn provided us with the one consistent accent of the evening and brought a bubbly charm to the role. Josephine Butler and Thaila Zucchi seemed to struggle at times with the accents and dropped them on a number of occasions. This sort of piece needs actors who are able to give their all and while there were enjoyable moments from both the lack of vocal quality was there to see.

Boeing Boeing appeals to those who remember the sixties and smile but for this reviewer the show lacked the fizz and sparkle necessary to make it work in a large house. It has been a while since I have left a theatre feeling under whelmed and I can understand that Theatre Royal has a demographic which I am not part of but I did get the sense that this piece of West End smash on tour is looking a little jet lagged.

Boeing Boeing runs at the Theatre Royal Brighton until Sat 18th April 09
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