Boeing Boeing is the sort of farce that, properly wound up, should move like clockwork through Bernard and Robert’s frantic efforts to keep Bernard’s three air hostess fiancees from ever meeting each other.
Terry Hands’ production is a little over-wound and goes in fits and starts, particularly in the first act, producing amusement rather than hilarity. Things improve mightily in the second act where moments of quietness allow more character to emerge, letting the farce take off.
Simon Dutton’s Bernard is smooth and louche but I never felt his equilibrium was in any danger of crumbling. Steven Meo’s Robert is sweetly naive and cuddly. In the early stages he tries too hard for the laughs but later they come freely for him, particularly in his relationships with the air hostesses.
Tara Dixon’s Gabriella is effectively Italian and highly emotional. Eleanor Howell’s Gloria is splendidly down-to-earth American. Her statuesque bearing make her later scenes with Robert very funny. Caryl Morgan’s Gretchen, who at times bears an uncanny resemblance to the young Barbara Windsor with a German accent, is a lovely combination of Teutonic formality and sexiness.
The show stealer is Victoria John’s maid Bertha, played on one note but a note of such a gloriously insolent attitude that I enjoyed every moment, particularly the drunken ones.
It all looks wonderful with brightly coloured costumes on Mark Bailey’s elegant 1960s, very yellow, set.
It’s very amiable and generally enjoyable but never quite achieves the classic heights that this terrific farce can reach.