Thursday, August 21, 2014
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Review: Boeing Boeing

Boeing Boeing, at Delaware Theatre Company, reviewed by Wendy Rosenfield

Review: Boeing Boeing

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By Wendy Rosenfield

For the Inquirer

The flight for swingin’-‘60s farce Francais, Boeing Boeing--which had its English language premiere in 1962, and saw a subsequent film adaptation starring Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis--hasn’t exactly been nonstop, but in the last few years it’s sure picked up speed. The play’s most recent layover lands at Delaware Theatre Company, but it was preceded by a 2009 production at Ambler’s Act II Playhouse, and just before that, award-winning revivals on Broadway and the West End.

So, what makes this bachelor fantasy, with its carousel of international air hostesses, so right for right now? Perhaps the world’s macro-turbulence makes bachelor Bernard’s micro-turbulence so appealing. After all, what would you rather watch, CNN’s foreign desk, or a Paris-based swell and his nerdy Wisconsin pal juggling a trio of leggy German, Italian and U.S. stewardesses? Picked the latter? Perfect; you know where you can stow all that oversized baggage.

Director Steve Tague and costumer Kim Krumm Sorenson stick with primary colors here. The ladies are caricatures of their representative nations: Heidi-Marie Ferren’s German Gretchen, a Dietrich dominatrix in canary yellow; Sara Bruner’s Gloria twangs Texan in bright red; and Gisela Chipe stirs the pot as a hot-headed Italian in blue. The gentlemen, Jason O’Connell’s Bernard and Jeffrey C. Hawkins, as pratfalling, bowtied Robert, are increasingly, deliciously ridiculous. 

Diminutive Sarah Doherty also reprises her Act II role as Bernard’s long-suffering maid Berthe. Aside from the fun in watching this lady-go-round make Bernard’s and Robert’s heads spin, it’s almost worth the ticket price to see relatively Amazonian (and hilarious) Ferren toss Doherty around like a beloved dress-up doll.

Stefanie Hansen’s sunken-living room in muted tones doesn’t swing quite as hard as its inhabitants, but it gets the job done, with bubble lights, chrome accents, an Eames-style seating arrangement and starburst knobs on all those slamming doors. And when those doors start moving, so does the production. This cast takes a while to wind up, but when,in the first of many laugh-out-loud moments (I won’t ruin it), the tension bursts, it goes full-throttle. 

Surely there’s no shame in a quick getaway and soft landing;you have plenty of time to unpack the rest of that baggage upon your return.

Boeing Boeing

Playing at: Delaware Theatre Company, 200 Water St.,Wilmington, Del. Through Sun., Feb. 10. Tickets: $35 to $39. Information: 302-594-1100 or www.DelawareTheatre.org.


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About this blog
Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer. She also is a contributing writer for Variety and American Theatre magazine. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of four books about four playwrights (Rabe, McNally, Miller, Albee), and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). Her 'weekend' job as a travel writer provides adventure: dogsledding in the Yukon, ziplining in Belize, walking coast-to-coast across England, and cowboying in the Australian Outback.


Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.


Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.


Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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