As one of its first plays this year, Arts Club has brought a full-fledged comedy to its stage and I was given the chance to experience the hilarity. The Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage presents, what they call, a “mile-high comedy”, formally known as Boeing-Boeing.
French playwright, Marc Camoletti, wrote Boeing-Boeing in 1960 and it enjoyed a nineteen year stint in Paris. Since it’s creation it has won two Tony Awards and has been performed in, most notably: London, Broadway and now Vancouver.
The play is set in a chic apartment in the ever- romantic Paris, France. Bernard, played by Jonathon Young, is the eye of the story’s hurricane, a storm that progressively gets more and more out of hand. Bernard is a rake by every means of the term and he proves this when he confidently tells his visiting friend Robert, played by Andrew McNee, his separate engagements to three flight attendants. When all three women arrive in Paris on the same day, Bernard is left to undertake a situation he is utterly unprepared for, here begins the hilarity.
Slowly the fiancées are introduced: Gloria, the American, Gabriella, the Italian, and Gretchen, the German. All the women harbour distinct personalities, but it is Gretchen, played by Colleen Wheeler, that garners the most laughs. Her abrasive attitude and complete devotion to Germany mean a strong, and sometimes frightening, woman is presented on the Arts Club Stage.
There is one character which provides consistent comic relief, this character is Bernard’s maid, Bertha, played by Nicola Lipman. Although Bertha does not have as much text as the other chracters, her body language and unimpressed “I told you so” looks produce a significant amount of the audience’s laughter. Bertha is the voice of reason for Bernard, so when she gets mixed up in trying to help him manage his fiancés, her cynicism skyrockets and makes for quick but effective punch lines.
Bernard’s friend Robert reminded me of a Vince Vaughn character; silly but witty and spewing long ramblings and clumsiness into the scenes makes him the main comedic focus. Robert, for me, is the most important pillar in terms of the story line as well as comedic upheaval, and McNee succeeds in presenting him to do just that.
Overall, this production had me laughing just as it promised. I was impressed by the strength of the cast and the boldness of the characters crafted by each actor, especially McNee, Wheeler and Lipman.
Come find out how, if at all, Bernard can manage to juggle his complicated love life!