MIDVALE — My thoughts after seeing Pinnacle Acting Company’s production of Boeing-Boeing are best summed up in a line from the script spoken by one of the supporting characters, Berthe, “That was very impressive, monsieur. I’d go a long way to see something like that again.” This little French farce is surefire cure for the winter blues.
Boeing-Boeing tells the story of a Bernard, an American living in Paris, who is engaged to three different women. He can keep up this scheme because all three are flight attendants who are in town on different days, which makes the plan work. The scheme is bound to fall apart is when the women’s employers introduce a newer, faster jet to their fleets. Just when the fiancées are all in town at the same time, Bernard’s friend Robert visits from the United States, and the duo work to prevent the women from finding out about each other.
The success or failure of a farce depends on the timing that a director creates. Hugh Hanson seemed to perfectly time every entrance, exit, and line of dialogue in order to maximize the comedy in the show. Hanson moved the show along at a brisk pace, which I especially appreciated during the lengthy exposition.
A man who deceives three women whom he is supposed to love would normally be a slime ball, but as portrayed by Don Leavitt, Bernard was actually a fun character to spend an evening with. Don Leavitt showed that Bernard wasn’t a bad person; he merely found an arrangement that made him and three other people happy. I also enjoyed Don Leavitt’s chemistry with each of the fiancées. I found it plausible that this man could be attracted to all three of the women. Roger Dunbar‘s performance as Robert was a textbook example of how to successfully perform a farce. Dunbar gave a deadpan delivery to the desperate lies that Robert told the fiancées, which made the lines much funnier than if he had tried to play them up for laughs. I also loved Dunbar’s body language, especially his bashful demeanor when Bernard and Gloria kissed.
The women in the cast were no less enjoyable to watch. Melanie Nelson played Berthe, Bernard’s maid who was the glue holding the scheme together. Nelson portrayed the put-upon maid with such charm (such as her complaints about the work it took to prepare the apartment for a new woman every few days) that I often found myself eagerly waiting for her next scene. Anne Louise Brings, as the American stewardess Gloria, was energetic and assertive, and I thought that was a breath of fresh air in an era of pervasive sexism. Brings was funniest in her explanation of American marriage, which she warped into a patriotic salute to America. Gabriella, the Italian stewardess played by Nicki Nixon, was a sexy bombshell that Bernard would do anything to keep, which I helped propel the action of the play. Finally, Tiffani Leavitt was a great rigid German flight attendant who was a nice contrast to the other flight attendants because of the difficulties she created in Bernard and Robert’s scheme.
The costume, set, and sound designs united to create the swinging sixties setting for the play. Amanda Reiser‘s costumes were exquisitely detailed, down to the slight flare in Bernard’s pants and the mid-thigh skirts for the flight attendants. Kit Anderton‘s set was not elaborate, but looked so realistic that before the lights were fully on I was wondering if the walls were made of drywall. Finally, Hanson’s sound design consisted mostly of preshow and intermission music, but it introduced a groovy feeling to the production without being overly showy.
Camoletti’s script is not as predictable as many farces (like Cash on Delivery), and I enjoyed the frantic excuses that Robert would increasingly make up as the story progressed. Beyond the script there was so much to commend in this production that it is probably the best non-Equity straight play that I have seen in several months. This was my first experience with Pinnacle Acting Company, and I hope it won’t be my last. Boeing-Boeing is an excellent show that would appeal to theatre audiences who enjoy the West Valley or Orem Hale’s non-musical offerings and have a discriminating taste in acting talent.