‘Boeing Boeing’ at The Little Theatre of Alexandria

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The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s latest production, Boeing Boeing, by French playwright Marc Camoletti with English translation by Beverley Cross, is marketed as “a non-stop comedy,” and after a packed afternoon show this past Sunday, it is surely on a non-stop trajectory to being the funniest, most charming play in the DC Metro area.

Patrick Doneghy (Robert) and Margaret Bush (Bertha). Photo by Douglas Olmstead.
Patrick Doneghy (Robert) and Margaret Bush (Bertha). Photo by Douglas Olmstead.

The premise and production of Boeing Boeing is, all things considered, simple. Set in the 1960s in Paris, the story occurs over the course of one day in the same comfortable Parisian apartment, and involves only six actors and characters in total. Most of the action is not action, but dialogue.

But the plot of Boeing Boeing is anything butsimple, as the characters struggle with the surprises, humor, exasperation, and frustration that comes with deception, mistaken identity, and love.

Bernard is an architect who juggles three different women on a weekly basis, and is affianced to all three ladies, who each believe they are the only one in his life. He succeeds in this masterful manipulation only because all three women are flight attendants on different airlines and schedules. But on this particular day, Bernard must carefully plan to see and send off all three women in the same day. Things become comically complicated when his old friend Robert shows up at his doorstep for a visit, and when Bernard finds out the women’s schedules deviate from his rigidly planned timelines when a new, faster Boeing jet is introduced and speeds up flight time. As you can imagine, confusion and hilarity ensue.

Kathleen Doyle (Gloria), Jennifer Patton (Gretchen), and Gabriela Coro (Gabriela). Photo by Doug Olmsted.
Kathleen Doyle (Gloria), Jennifer Patton (Gretchen), and Gabriela Coro (Gabriela). Photo by Doug Olmsted.

The direction of Roland Branford Gomez sails Boeing Boeing through three separate acts with ease and continuity. Additionally, Set Designers John Downing and Bill Glikbarg, and Costume Designers Jean Schlichting and Kit Sibley should be commended for the detail of their work and visuals. Because the setting remains static on stage, but is dynamic in the plot, the staging of Boeing Boeing involves many doors and fantastically done rotating walls. The attire of all six characters look spot-on when it comes to blending into 60’s wear, although the outfits of the three flight attendants are especially great. Each sporting a primary color – red, blue, and yellow – they positively shine as they pop onstage with typical flight attendant cheeriness.

Joshua Rich is the playboy Bernard who somehow remains mostly blissfully ignorant of the confusion happening in his apartment throughout the play. Margaret Bush plays Bertha, Bernard’s long-suffering French maid who helps him pull of his masterful deception but not without loud complaint in a French accent. Bernard’s three flight attendant loves all have names that start with G: Katie Doyle is Gloria, the American; Gabby Coro is Gabriela, the Italian; and Jennifer Patton is Gretchen, the German who flies with Lufthansa. Remarkably, each actress convincingly pulls off the accent of her respective character with finesse. But it is Patrick M. Doneghy who really steals the show as the friend Robert, who is roped into juggling Bernard’s multiple fiancés for most of the story. His exaggerated sense of despair and frustration, frequent need for a large whisky, and most of all, his personality of part sass and part sarcasm is pure comedy.

Joshua Rich (Bernard) and Gabriela Coro (Gabriela). Photo by Doug Olmsted.
Joshua Rich (Bernard) and Gabriela Coro (Gabriela). Photo by Doug Olmsted.

It doesn’t take a media review here to gauge audience appreciation– the reaction of a full house laughing aloud was evidence enough. Truthfully, my sides have never ached so much in a show from laughter.

The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s hilarious Boeing Boeing is an absolute must see for anyone with a sense of humor. It’s great fun!

Running Time: Two and a half hours, with two 15-minute intermissions.

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Boeing Boeing plays through May 24, 2014 at The Little Theater of Alexandria – 600 Wolfe Street, in Alexandria, VA.  For tickets, call (703) 683-0496, or purchase them online.

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Emily Cao
Emily hails from Anchorage, AK and is an avid theater-lover, filmgoer, musician, history buff, and general extoller of the arts. A graduate of Duke University (BS Economics, BA Psychology), Emily has enjoyed over a decade of stage and musical productions foremost as an appreciative audience member, but also as a member of pit and opera orchestras as a musician. Emily's love of the theater arts encompasses all variety of modern and classic Broadway musicals, notable Shakespearean plays, and the great Romantic operas, to name a few, though her long-time secret obsession has been Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. Emily is currently working in government consulting in Arlington, and is a photography enthusiast and self-proclaimed Anglophile in her spare time. As a newcomer to the area, Emily is thrilled to have the opportunity to explore DC's vibrant performing arts scene with DCMetroTheaterArts.