I am woman, hear me roar….
There is something so satisfying about watching four gorgeous, deserving women get exactly what they want from two conniving, exploitative men who think the world is their oyster. Seeing it performed as stage farce, by a fine acting ensemble with an daring female director at the helm, makes it especially satisfying.
The ongoing artistic partnership forged by Circle Theatre with director Robin Armstrong can bang the gong again for another crisp, creative triumph with Marc Camoletti’s signature, slightly naughty, unabashedly non-PC, women’s lib farce Boeing Boeing, listed in 1991’s Guinness Book of Records as the ‘most performed French play in the world’. Running through April 2, 2011, at Circle Theatre’s Sundance Square Fort Worth location, Boeing Boeing could surely strike a romantic firestorm somewhere. On her terms, mind you.
This farce opened in London’s West End in 1962, where it ran for seven years. Its 2008 Broadway revival won Best Revival of a Play and Mark Rylance, playing Robert, won the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Leading Actor. It’s funny. It’s very, very funny.
Picture a fashionable bachelor pad in Paris in the early 60’s. Women’s Lib, miniskirts and The Pill have added extra thrust to the eternal dance of the birds and the bees. How should an enterprising, handsome young architect named Bernard turn this serendipitous state to his advantage without getting hitched? Get engaged to three equally stunning stewardesses who work for different international airlines and enjoy them each on a staggered schedule.
Risky business? Not if he employs the superior management skills of a sharp-tongued, stern French housekeeper/maid named Bertha to synchronize the comings and goings-on. The girls — a German, an Italian and an American southern belle – fall for the scurrilous ruse. Quel horreur? Enter Bernard’s guileless, girlfriend-less, nerdy best friend Robert to spice up the scenes. When flights get delayed due to bad weather and everyone converges on Bernard’s pad, Robert finds himself an unwitting accomplice and leaps in as an enthused participant in the resulting romantic rollercoaster romp. Never fear! The men get exactly what they deserve and the girls precisely what they want. Even solemn Bertha gets a substantial raise from stingy Bernard. A moral? Too much of a “good thing” just might bite you in the derriere (speaking pre-HIV, of course).
Director Armstrong picked a stunning cast to bring this risqué trifle boldly to life. Hunky Ashley Wood (who played the lusty, manipulative bastard in Second Thought Theatre’s Some Girls a while back) makes a smug Bernard, dazzling each woman with calculated macho charm, with nary a second thought to potential consequences. As the play’s “straight guy” he never loses audience focus even in the presence of comic mania. Armstrong selected a sizzling trio of feminine sirens oozing sex appeal and 60’s modernity from every powdered pore and batted eyelash in their pursuit of Bernard. Doe-eyed, pouty-lipped Sherry Hopkins as the American Gloria, Emily Scott Banks’ as the robustly sensual Italian Gabriella and statuesque Morgan McClure with “legs up to there” and a profusion of blonde tresses as sauerkraut-loving, insatiable German Gretchen all unleash unforgettable liberated lust from the moment they sashay on stage and justifiable ire when the jig is up. Elegant, dignified Krista Scott (whose facial structure rivals Ingrid Bergman’s for sheer beauty) grounds the play with un-nerving disdain and delivers the play’s best-written comic zingers with surgical precision. Bertha’s always in charge, never you doubt…
There’s good reason why Mark Rylance won both the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Actor in the 2008 revival of Boeing Boeing. Nerdy, needy Robert offers a fearless comic actor the ultimate opportunity to go for broke. In an outstanding performance which may likely end up as one of 2011’s finest, Andy Baldwin mines every speck of comic gold out of the role.
His inventive “Dance of the Three Towels” is one of the funniest moments I’ve ever witnessed in Dallas theatre. While his performance pays hilarious homage to a droll Tim Conway with a Peter Sellers mustache, he is equally present as a member of Director Armstrong’s ensemble.
Robin Armstrong also costumed the show, clothing the girls in precise replicas of 1960’s colorful stewardess attire, a classy touch.
Set design by Clare Floyd DeVries, lighting by John Leach and sound by David H. M. Lambert, work together smoothly to give Boeing Boeing a clear path for launch from Circle Theatre’s runway.
We are strong. We are invincible….
For reservations call 817.877.3040 or www.CircleTheatre.com.
PHOTOS by Glen E. Ellman:
Emily Scott Banks; Sherry Hopkins; Ashley Wood & Morgan McClure
Andy Baldwin, Krista Scott & Ashley Wood
Sherry Hopkins, Andy Baldwin
Quote lines from Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman”