Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Review: Boeing, Boeing



I went to see Broadway’s new hit comedy “Boeing, Boeing” on the basis of its star power (comedic treasure Christine Baranski and “The West Wing’s” Bradley Whitford) without having seen either Marc Camoletti’s French play or the Jerry Lewis/Tony Curtis ’60s movie based on it, so when a friend questioned why I would be interested to see a show based on a guy having silultaneous affairs with three airline stewardesses, I had to confess that it didn’t sound like the kind of show I usually would enjoy.
And while the plot doesn’t get much more complicated than that, there are some funny lines, good physical comedy and timing that has made it popular with theatregoers and which have earned it a Tony Award nomination for Best Revival of a Play.
Whitford plays Bernard, who thinks he’s living the perfect bachelor’s life in 1960s France juggling three airline “hostess” fiances. It’s all about the timetables, he tells Robert, his visiting unwordly, naïve Midwestern friend, ably played by Mark Rylance, Tony nominated for leading actor in a play for this role. Gloria, Gabriella and Gretchen, the objects of Bernard’s affection, or at least lust, are played by Kathryn Hahn, Gina Gershon and an atypically cast but Tony nominated Mary McCormack (also of “West Wing”). Christine Baranski steals the show, however, as Berthe, Bernard’s wisecracking, complaining housekeeper who tries to help him keep track of which hostess with which food preferences is in the apartment at any given time (and it’s hard to imagine Ryland and McCormack getting Tony nods over her). Predictably, timetable and weather conditions force complications for Bernard and Robert is enlisted to help keep the women from finding out about each other.
Overall, I liked Director Matthew Warchus and Scenic and Costume Designer Rob Howell’s retro, but updated look and feel for the show, although it could have been edited to 90 minutes with no intermission. Sound issues resulted in some dropped dialog. It also seemed to me that Berthe looked just like Edna E Mode, a character in Disney’s animated film “The Incredibles.” In a Playbill interview, Ms. Baranski said she helped create the look, but didn’t mention whether Edna was an influence and an inquiry to the show’s press agent went unanswered, so I give you photos of both Berthe and Edna above and you can decide for yourself.
There was humor in the show and the pleasure of Ms. Baranski’s performance, but I could never fully engage with a plot that suggested it was acceptable for Bernard to have affairs with three women while deceiving them all about the depth of his feelings. It all does work out all right in the end, and Berthe is a voice of conscience which keeps the show and Bernard reminded of values, but she’s not enough to overcome dialog and actions that suggest morals are unnecesssary.
Christians might be interested to know:
The show carries a “Mature” advisory
Contains sexually suggestive kisses, dialogue and touching
The Lord’s name is used twice: “Thank the Lord!” and “Oh, God!”

1 comment:

Donna said...

This seems to me a very accurate review and was helpful to read. Ms. Yarger has the eye of a critic and a heart that loves the Lord. Such a combination is rare, and her reiviews will help me decide where to spend my theatre dollars.

Donna

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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