‘Boeing Boeing’ takes off with flying colors at Macon Little Theatre

Bernard owns a stylish little apartment in Paris where he lives with his French maid and his American fiancée, a flight attendant with TWA named Gloria. When Gloria is away on international flights, he lives with his French maid and his Italian fiancée, Gabriella with Air Italia. And when Gabriella is away, Bernard lives with his German fiancée, Gretchen of Lufthansa. Does anyone else see a problem here? So begins Marc Camoletti’s hilarious farce “Boeing Boeing.” Bernard, a noncommittal ladies’ man, has his romantic life timed down to the minute to keep his three flying fiancées from find out about each other. To his maid Berthe and his visiting friend Robert, the setup seems a bit more precarious than Bernard seems to—that is, until a storm sends Gretchen in early and prevents Gloria from leaving, just as Gabriella touches down. Now Bernard, Berthe and Robert have to juggle three demanding fiancées (with some incredibly strong accents) to keep Bernard from landing in hot water. As Berthe says at the end of the first act, “We’re in for a bumpy night.” The Macon Little Theatre’s rendition of the play starts out slow but picks up quickly for an enjoyable night with a lot of laughs. I was honestly a bit worried when the play opened for its first scene. The exposition of a play generally takes a while to heat up and get interesting, but the first half of the first act dragged and I don’t understand why Byron Grant, the play’s director, decided to begin the show in such a weak way. Lauren Day (Gloria) and Jonathan Kent (Bernard) were shaping up to be the weakest actors on the cast, especially when balanced with Weldon Ledbetter, the actress who plays Berthe. The unconvincing delivery of their lines was thrown into stark relief by Ledbetter’s consistent and clear French accent and brisk, sarcastic demeanor. The action inched its way to being interesting only after Scot Cooley, playing Bernard’s old friend Robert, entered the scene, closely followed by Betsy Brindger’s wonderfully over-the-top Gabriella. Once the speed of the farce picked up the play became much more enjoyable and the humor more evident. Cooley, once he warmed to his role, stole the show as his character began to move in on Bernard’s fiancées. Some of his movements were awkward, but more often than not his stage presence and his delivery made him one of the most fun characters to watch. All of the fiancées—including Gloria, who was stiff in the first scene—are dynamic and funny to watch, but none more so than Gretchen, played by Christine Yoder. She owned her role as the buxom and passionate German, and her chemistry with Cooley was spot-on. The play relies a good bit on physical humor as well as the situational humor and the dialogue, but for the most part the cast did a good job handling it. Lauren Day gets a lot funnier when she starts flirting and making out with Robert (“It’s a good way to pass the time!”), and Yoder is unabashed in the way her character throws herself around the room. And Cooley is just hilarious. Brindger’s character does not use much physical humor at all, but her lively delivery, trilling Italian R’s and Latin sass make her just as dynamic. If only the same could be said for Kent—while his performance does improve as the pace picks up, he just does not look comfortable in his character as he kisses the actresses or fans a hyperventilating Gabriella with his coat. No, it isn’t Broadway. And no, it’s not going to make you think very much—this isn’t an “edifying night at the theatre” kind of play. But if you’re looking for a good laugh, the Macon Little Theatre’s “Boeing Boeing” should be right up your alley.