Written by Marc Camoletti and directed by Stephen Snars, Boeing Boeing tells the tale of Bernard (Paul Sztelma), a French architect living in Paris and juggling relationships with three flight attendants. It is the 1960s and Bernard has no shame over his three fiancé’s – in fact, when an old school friend Robert (Robert Snars) arrives from the country, he is quick to explain his situation and how utterly clever he is. It’s all about the time table you see – so long as the time table doesn’t change too much it all runs smoothly – and of course you must choose women from different airlines.
As the play opens we are introduced to Janet (Jacquie Wilson), the American from TWA who is sharing breakfast with Bernard before a ten o’clock flight. For lunch it is Jacqueline (Bernadette Hook), from Air France and in the evening it is the austere and rather passionate Judith (Hannah Lehmann) from Lufthansa. As he explains how the system works to Robert, you can’t help but wonder how he does it, and then Bertha (Annette Dix) the housekeeper appears, as if from nowhere, and suddenly it’s all a little clearer. She is cranky, rude and never stops complaining about the drastic changes to the food menu, but it is clear that Bernard would be lost without her.
Inevitably, his carefully orchestrated world comes crashing down in an hilarious fashion. Physically comedy combined with witty one-liners, makes Boeing Boeing a real pleasure to watch. While each of the characters is charismatic, it is Robert Snars who steals the show as the likeable and somewhat innocent friend Robert. Credit also needs to be given to Paul Sztelma as Benard for carrying off such a fine comedic performance in a fairly convincing French accent.
The true skill of Boeing Boeing is in the details. The 1960s music – sung in French – which plays in the foyer and the theatre while the curtain is closed, the projection of the Eiffel Tower on the closed curtain, the incredibly authentic 1960s apartment, complete with a bar in the living room and the period appropriate French newspapers. Even the announcement to take your seats was read as if it were an in-flight announcement, with lines appearing in the program which state, ‘Tea / coffee / juice / biscuits will be served in the departure lounge during intermission. Please ensure all electronic devices are switched of or placed on flight mode. There is no smoking on this flight. Smoke detectors have been installed in the restrooms.’ It is these tiny details which make the performance that bit more magical and which sets the Pavilion Theatre ahead of the pack.
Boeing Boeing plays at The Pavilion Theatre in Castle Hill, Sydney until the 15th October. For more information and to book check out The Pavilion Theatre website http://paviliontheatre.org.au/