LANESBORO — “Boeing Boeing,” the comedy/farce that opened over the weekend at the Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro, is a fun slice of 1960s nostalgia.
There are the bright fashions, the red and yellow bean bags, the blue shag rug and the attitudes toward mating that show signs of just breaking out of the postwar chill.
Come to think of it, this play could be a relic, if not for the energy pumped into the script by the Commonweal’s actors.
“Boeing Boeing,” written by French playwright Marc Camelotti, and directed for the Commonweal by Craig Johnson, is set in Paris, where Bernard, an American lothario, has arranged to be simultaneously engaged to three flight attendants. Luckily, they are on different flight schedules, and through a careful study of the timetables, Bernard is able to keep them coming and going through the revolving door of his love nest.
First there is Gloria (Rachel Kuhnle), an American woman, followed by Gabriella (Lizzy Andretta), an Italian, and finally Gretchen (Elizabeth Dunn), a German.
The three women are all over-the-top stereotypes, and it’s good they are played that way, complete with horrible accents. Otherwise the supposed national traits might offend our modern sensibilities: the bossy and intense German, the temperamental Italian and the superficial American.
Andretta creates a fiery Gabriella, while Kuhnle pours on the southern sugar as Gloria, and Dunn shouts orders as the humorless Gretchen.
Josiah Laubenstein is the suave and normally calm Bernard, the ringmaster of this three-girl circus. Adrienne Sweeney has tons of fun as Berthe, Bernard’s housekeeper. Adding fuel to the fire is Bernard’s American pal, Robert, who arrives and dispenses his own brand of love potion. The latter role is a tour-de-force of physical comedy for Brandt Roberts.
Some of the content is a little tired, in the way many things pre-early ’60s tend to look and sound from a distance (“Boeing Boeing” was written in 1960). Society, art, entertainment, relationships — it all changed quickly during the succeeding decade.
In that regard, perhaps what we find so interesting about “Boeing Boeing” is not so much the comedy, but the pre-modern world the show invokes. Was there really a time when Bernard’s treatment of women was found to be not only acceptable, but funny?
Of course, in the end, in a foreshadowing of what was to come, it’s the women in his life who have the last laugh. Good for them.