Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Promethean Theatre: Boeing-Boeing (4 reviews)

The Promethean Theatre opened its production of Boeing-Boeing at the Nova Southeastern University Don Taft University Center Black Box Theatre on January 13, 2012.
The uproarious jet-propelled comedy that had audiences and critics cheering in London and on Broadway in a 2008 Tony-winning production, is coming in for a landing on the TPT stage!

Revived on Broadway in 2008, this 1960's French farce features self-styled Parisian lothario Bernard, who has international fiancees, each beautiful airline hostesses with frequent "layovers". He keeps "one up, one down and one pending" until unexpected schedule changes bring all three to Paris and Bernard's apartment at the same time. Grab your boarding pass for a rollicking good time.
Margaret Ledford directed a cast that included Sally Bondi, Lauren Butler, Matthew William Chizever, Mark Duncan, Monica Lynne Herrera, and Rachel Lomax.

John Thomason wrote for The Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Margaret Ledford directs the play like the perpetual-motion machine that it is, but this oft-staged classic isn't as manic or zany as the best farces (think Lend Me a Tenor, Noises Off). A strong ensemble sells the familiar material with gusto and good humor. Chizever plays Bernard like an old Jack Lemmon archetype — flushed, flustered, and reaching the end of his tether. Rachel Lomax generates the most laughs as Bernard's Teutonic paramour, and Mark Duncan steals many scenes as his impossibly anxious estranged friend turned partner in crime. Only Sally Bondi, as Bernard's maid, fails to meet expectations, with an inconsistent French accent that leaves on a jet plane whenever it pleases.
J.W. Arnold reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
The challenge with farce is timing and, under the direction of Margaret Ledford, the cast is largely successful with the gags as one girl emerges the instant another is shoved unwillingly out the door. But, despite a brisk pace, the play—two acts and nearly two and a half hours with intermission—labors on at times and could benefit from some editing. It’s a 30-minute TV sitcom on steroids and we all know that steroids sometimes have some unintended side effects.
Chizever is a dashing Bernard, but it’s the deadpan performances from Duncan and Bondi that steal the show as his unenthusiastic co-conspirators. Butler, Herrera and especially the jack-booted Lomax also provide plenty of laughs, all dressed in their stylish period airline uniforms, courtesy of costume designer Ellis Tillman.
Until Mad Men returns to the airwaves in March, Boeing Boeing is the best option to get your retro fix, farce or not.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald, but starts off with a qualifier;
Some folks love farce. Others think farce belongs in a category with mimes, interactive theater and root canals: things we know exist but wouldn’t jump to experience. With a few exceptions... I’m with the latter group.
And now on to the review:
Director Margaret Ledford tries mightily to keep the play airborne on Kelly Berry’s swingin’ ‘60s set. The actors push hard to achieve the physical comedy farce requires, but too much of the movement looks strained or uncomfortable rather than artfully choreographed.
Chizever and Bondi, two very good actors, are out of their element here. His Bernard comes off as a blustering bull in a china shop, and her Bertha (sporting a pitiful French accent) is more bored beatnik than wily housekeeper. Butler’s Gloria and Herrera’s Gabriella are so over-the-top obnoxious that their “charms” remain thoroughly hidden. Only the lanky Lomax and milquetoast Duncan make their odd-couple characters work.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Promethean and its house director Margaret M. Ledford, best known for thought-provoking dramas and campy summer musicals, enter new territory with an out and out comedy that requires skill and discipline. As proven by the copious laughter in the hall, they acquit themselves well.

There’s a nagging indefinable something missing that would make it a home run. Maybe it’s a tautness, that feeling of an intricate watch spring whirring. It even sags a few times. But overall, Ledford and the cast deliver as entertaining a comedy as we’ve likely seen this season.
Duncan gives Robert a sad-sack puppy dog expression that bespeaks a virginal loneliness. He starts just a little too nebbishy to be credible and his character’s reticence slows down the first fifth of the play. But when the plot heats up and Duncan has developments to react to, so does his performance.
Chizever puts across a carefree confidence in the early scenes and then the appropriately unhinged terror as it all comes apart. Bondi is just okay here as the put-upon, muttering maid.
The women are as delightful as they are lovely. Herrera is soon to graduate from Nova Southeastern University... But she seems much older and more experienced an actress with her creation of the Italian spitfire who smolders and rages at her fiancé’s inexplicable behavior.

Butler, a recent Nova grad, is terribly funny as the supremely self-possessed, aggressive and lusciously sexy partner – a 1960 adolescent’s fantasy.

But the standout in the entire cast is the tall, willowy Lomax who chews up the scenery and everything else in sight with her wonderfully way over-the-top characterization...  Her performance underscores the tone of the rest of the show: Boeing Boeing is a comical Rat Pack Roadrunner cartoon.
The Promethean Theatre production of Boeing-Boeing plays at the Nova Southeastern University Don Taft University Center Black Box Theatre through January 29, 2012.

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