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Farcical BOEING-BOEING amuses at Lakeland

Roy Berko

(Member, American Theatre Critics Association, Cleveland Critics Circle)

Farce is light comedy which contains exaggerated, extravagant and improbable situations.  It often contains slapstick incidents and lots of people ducking in and out of slamming doors.  Though farce was supposedly started in the 13th century, the modern tone for this format, which is highlighted by the works of the likes of The Three Stooges, The Marx Brothers, The Keystone Cops, Lucille Ball, Tim Conway and Carol Burnett, was etched by Molière, a Frenchman, and is best represented by his TARTUFFE.

It is therefore appropriate that one of the best of the modern farces, BOEING-BOEING, was written by Marc Comoletti, a Frenchman.  And though the play bombed in its initial Broadway debut, it was a smash hit in France and, according to the GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORDS, it is the most performed French play throughout the world.   The French seem to love the ridiculous, as can be recognized by their absolute adoration of Jerry Lewis.

BOEING-BOEING, which takes place in 1960, centers on Bernard, a bachelor who is engaged to three women at the same time.   His Paris apartment’s doors swing open and closed as the three stewardesses flow in and out of his life.  Bernard couldn’t be happier until his house of cards starts to collapse as all three women appear at the same time.  Aided by his timid friend Robert, who can’t remember who he has told lies to, catastrophe looms.   But, as always happens in this kind of format, there is an improbable ending and all’s well that ends well.

Most theatre people consider farce the most challenging format as it requires exaggerated actions, while appearing to be completely serious and realistic.

Martin Friedman’s direction is basically on point.  The audience laughs, the ridiculousness is present, and that’s what farce is all about.  The production would have been helped by a faster pace, a more furious series of opening and slamming doors, and more keyed farcical timing.

Brian Zoldessy, who has made a career out of playing nerds caught in the crosshairs of imminent disaster, succeeds once again.  His mobile face and ability to create the right level of believable ridiculousness, makes his Robert the laugh center of the show.

Jeffrey Grover serves well as the straight man for Zoldessy’s comic shticks.  Beth Lee holds her own as Bertha, Bernard’s maid, though her accent sometimes makes her difficult to understand.  Katie Nabors, Nancy Telzerow and Tess Elizabeth, as the bevy of beautiful stewardesses, each creates an identifiable character.

Capsule judgement: BOEING-BOEING is a light weight farce that receives what should be an audience pleasing production at Lakeland Community Theatre.  

For tickets to BOEING-BOEING which runs through October 6, and is being staged in Lakeland Community College’s theatre, call 440-525-7134 or to go