15 May to 7 June 2014
Reviewed by Jenny Seymour
We had the privilege of being invited to the opening night of Boeing Boeing at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. We were greeted by pilots and air hostesses and it was great to see the Crucible foyer buzzing even before the play had started.
This French farce was made into a film with Tony Curtis in the 60s, but this adaptation translated by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans and directed by Jonathan Humphreys takes us back to its roots – being set in Paris in the 60s. However, the very British accents of the male characters and the Yorkshire accent of Bertha, the maid, worked amazingly well. The play is extremely clever – like all farce, but here it needs to be clever in order to construct such a complicated plot and a web of deceit.
The story is of a polygamous Frenchman with 3 fiancées and no intention to marry any of them! He believes this web of infidelity works because they are all air stewardesses (the timetables never clash), with names beginning with G. His poor maid also has to work around the timetables and stock her fridge according to the nationality of the fiancée – be it the American one, the Italian one or the German one with her frankfurters and sauerkraut. BUT what will happen when a storm brews and the planes are all delayed or cancelled? The timetable can’t save Monsieur Bernard now… will he and his long lost friend Robert be able to outwit the strong personalities of each of the fiancées? Will they be able to continue in this blissful ignorance? This farcical absurd situation quickly unravels and degenerates, but results in lots of one-liners and has the audience in stitches.
The stage at the Crucible Theatre is not easy to work with as a director, I’m sure. Especially when the critical part of your play is what goes on behind closed doors. I was intrigued to see what the director would do with this stage and how he would hide the 3 fiancées from each other in such an open circular stage. I was initially disappointed because the stage was set as it would have been on any other classic rectangular stage. However, it worked. I loved the set – classic 60s décor, lighting and music. There was even a functional bathroom behind one of the doors.
There were a couple of slip ups (literally) by one of the actors on this first night, but in farce, this can be forgiven – was it intentional? It certainly seemed to fit with the script. The second act in particular is extremely fast moving, with doors slamming and opening as Robert and Bernard try to usher each fiancée creating absurd stories to ensure they never meet.
The Crucible stage is also difficult for actors – a circular stage where at some point only some of the audience will be able to see your reactions and at some point, you will always have your back to one part of the audience, but the entire small cast (there were only 6 performers) performed excellently. I particularly loved Gabriella (the Italian one!) and my friend loved Gretchen (the Allo Allo-esque German one) – we all have our favourites he he! I couldn’t like Bernard – he looked a bit “slimy” and from the off reminded us of city colleagues, but naïve Robert was played perfectly – all in all it was very well cast.
The Adelphi Room where our interval drinks were served was also a great venue – with views over Crucible Square.
Great performances by the whole cast, a great retro set and music and a great night out. Laugh out loud fun.
I give it top marks for having the whole audience laughing and having a fabulous night.
It is showing at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield from 15 May to 7 June 2014. Tickets are priced between £16-£23 although a booking fee may apply.
For more infomation or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0114 249 6000.
Crucible Theatre, 55 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 1DA | 0114 249 6000