Farce in Flight: Repertory Philippines’ Boeing Boeing
Repertory Philippines opens its 2013 season with Boeing Boeing, a comedy set in the 1960s about an American playboy juggling an “international harem” of three fiancées all at the same time. How does he accomplish such a feat? With some very exact planning and a whole lot of gall.
Bernard Whitford (David Bianco) is a Paris-based American architect based who transforms his bachelor pad into a love nest whenever one of his fiancées is in town. Depending on the day and time, he could be entertaining either Gloria from the USA (Jen Bianco), Gretchen from Germany (Carla Dunareanu), or Gabriella from Italy (Giannina Ocampo).
Each girl is an air hostess from a different airline with her own flight schedule. With the invaluable assistance of Bertha (Baby Barredo, with Joy Virata as alternate), his long-suffering housekeeper slash love life air traffic controller, and Robert (Topper Fabregas), his wet-behind-the-ears best friend, Bernard succeeds in maintaining a happy household thrice over with each girl none the wiser about the other.
All is well until the introduction of the new Boeing jet, which revolutionizes air travel by making flights so much faster. This innovation throws Bernard’s careful plans out the window and into chaos, hilarious, ridiculous chaos.
David Bianco makes an absolutely dapper playboy, the perfect balance of suave and sleazy. He is charming and, as his timetables go awry, is even able to elicit a little bit sympathy from an audience who thought he had it coming all along.
Bernard’s three fiancées are all one-dimensional racial stereotypes of their country of origin, and that’s a large part of what makes the play so funny. The three actresses all take their roles with no holds barred, and their committed performances contribute greatly to the success of the production.
Jen Bianco was engaging and lovable as the saucy Southern belle that takes no prisoners. She lays it on thick, like the molasses her character pours on her pancakes, and she wins the audiences’ heart when she turns some tables in the end.
Carla Dunareanu practically stole the show as the overly dramatic German. Her accent was spot on and her unpredictable swings from quiet to crazy were natural and believable. Every minute she was on stage was a treat.
Giannina Ocampo fit her part as the sweet yet sexy Italian girl with domestic dreams really well. She gave a charming rendition of the role, though her accent could have been more pronounced and her gestures, particularly her hand gestures, as to be more indicative of a stereotypical Italian background. Of the three, she was the tamest.
Baby Barredo brings a lot of sass and spunk to her portrayal of Bertha, making her less like a French made and more like a Filipino mayordomo. She’s outspoken and irreverent, and her snide remarks and biting one-liners are a great source of laughs. Truly, yaya is boss.
Topper Fabregas puts the “aww” in aww-dorable as Robert. He is absolutely endearing as a lost little boy overwhelmed by the bright lights — and beautiful girls — of the big European city.
Miguel Faustmann is the man behind the Boeing Boeing’s stage direction and set design, the seamlessness of which is made manifest as the play progresses. The story unfolds in the main living room/receiving area of Bernard’s apartment, with exits and entrances happening through seven doors arranged in a semi-circle around the stage. Careful comedic timing ensures that the doors open and close on cue, with seconds or less separating one door from the next. The unexpected entrances and the speedy door slamming is a source of laughter and suspense, especially towards the climax of the play when an early landing, a delayed take-off, and bad weather lead all the characters to converge in one place.
Fasten your seat belts and suspend your disbelief, Boeing Boeing is an enjoyable romp that starts Repertory Philippines’ 76th theater season on a sky-high note.
Boeing Boeing opens tomorrow, January 25 2013, Friday, and runs until February 17 2013, Sunday, at OnStage Greenbelt 1. Tickets are available at P1000 (Orchestra Center), P800 (Orchestra Side), and P500 (Balcony). Call 571-6926 or 571-4941, email email@example.com, or log on to http://www.repertory.ph. Tickets are also available through Ticketworld. Call 891-9999 or visit http://www.ticketworld.com.ph.