#TheaterTuesday: 'Boeing Boeing' is bouncy and naughty

HAVE A LAUGH. Catch 'Boeing Boeing' until February 17. Photo courtesy of Repertory Philippines

HAVE A LAUGH. Catch 'Boeing Boeing' until February 17.

Photo courtesy of Repertory Philippines

MANILA, Philippines - Sitcoms or situational comedies are all about good, lovable people: the kind you will empathize and cheer for despite their failings; the kind who do stupid things to each other — lying, cheating, and thinking they can get away with it.

Then we watch them squirm, agonize, make fools of themselves as they conceal one lie with yet another and bury themselves deeper in a hole of their own making. Without such folly, there is no story. The fun is in witnessing such delicious torture.

So what better treat this Valentine's season than to watch a sexy French theatrical modern classic, one that turns one's beau sulking into laughter, replaces the memories of one's faults with those of the characters on stage, and makes you secretly thankful it's not you being found out in the spotlight before a live audience?

“Boeing Boeing” is literally a vintage 1960s sitcom. The situation it presents would be impossible with today's Skype, iPhones, Dreamliners, post- AIDS era sexual awareness, and new generation feminism.

And that's part of the appeal.

It tells of Bernard, a French architect who juggles his time with 3 fiancees — all flight attendants from different airlines with different flight schedules, all clueless about their man's philandering ways. It's a perfect situation: loving different women vetted by the exacting standards of airline stewardesses, made possible by his old housekeeper Bertha who switches photos and menus to accommodate the different women.

But when a new Boeing jet plane delivers quicker routes, it upsets Bernard's carefully-orchestrated schedule. To complicate matters, his old school friend Robert drops by to stay.

Written by Marc Camoletti in 1962, it is, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the most performed French play throughout the world and was even adapted into an American film starring Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis in 1965. And with good reason: it's a thigh-slapping, bust-your-gut, laugh-out-loud comedy. 

Though endowed with a cast that stars the highly esteemed Baby Barredo (alternated by Joy Virata) as well as actors David Bianco as Bernard and Topper Fabregas as Robert, it is the young ladies onstage that turn heads. And it's not because Carla Dunareanu (Lufthansa's Gretchen), Giannina Ocampo (Alitalia's Gabriella), and Jennifer Bianco (TWA's Gloria) all prance around the stage in translucent lingerie — corsets, stockings, and heels to boot — as well as svelte airline stewardess uniforms. 

It's a tough act to follow, but these fine young lasses even manage to steal the show from their own men's magazine-worthy bodies. Their comedic timing, physical comedy, and delivery of lines are all fantastically spot on. Even the shallowest of men will have found it hard to ogle from so much laughter. (I think I coughed up my spleen seeing Dunareanu go nuts with "gigil" with her authentic German accent.)

The guys are no slouches either; seeing David Bianco and Fabregas have their feet put to the fire as they try to get away with their ruse is delicious torture. And Barredo brings the house down with just a handbag and few one-liners.

Fabregas's Robert is shy, effeminate, and naïve at first. He reveals his slithery sly side in the most awkward of ways. For his part, David Bianco transforms himself to look every bit the debonair lady's man of the 1960s. Not to be outdone, Ocampo, Dunareanu, and Jennifer Bianco's characters reveal themselves equally adept at playing the players. 

The costume follows those in the original play, having its 3 women garbed in the primary colors red (TWA), blue (Alitalia), and yellow (Lufthansa) that are reminiscent of Piet Mondrian's iconic paintings. The set add hints of Andy Warhol with Pop Art portraits. Even the warm bright lighting lends itself to that 1960s feel.

But with such hilarious repartee and physical acting, it is truly an effort to take note of the stage design, costume, and lighting. All eyes are are on the actors, especially the women, and least of all because of their looks. This staging of a vintage 1960s comedy could be the silliest form of 21st century feminism.  

It bodes well for the local theater scene that they can source 3 actresses with such oh-so-vital statistics to play such sexy naughty parts with such great comedic ability. No longer is the choice between true talent and star power.

Welcome the new theater generation coming into their own.

Watch it. This naughty retro 1960's play is perfect for a Valentine's date. - Rappler.com


(Rome Jorge is the editor in chief of Asian Traveler magazine.)

("Boeing Boeing" by Repertory Philippines runs at OnStage, Greenbelt 1 until February 17. For more information, visit. www.repertory.ph. For ticket information, visit www.ticketworld.com.ph or call 891-9999.)