Theatre Review: Boeing Boeing – Oldham Coliseum


This review was originally written for The Public Reviews

Marc Camoletti’s frantic French comedy Boeing Boeing is brought to life in a hilarious new adaptation by Oldham Coliseum Theatre.

Based on the classic farce written by French playwright Marc Camoletti, Boeing Boeing tells the story of playboy bachelor Bernard and his love life to three different fiancées from three competing airlines. Life is good for Bernard until his carefully planned love life is thrown out of the window when a new speedier Boeing jet results in all three of his glamorous air stewardess girlfriends (who don’t know about each other), arriving in town simultaneously to surprise him. Cue a series of frantic and funny events in which Bernard’s love life spirals out of control with hilarious results.

Refreshing, humorous and supremely ridiculous, Oldham Coliseum’s adaptation of Boeing Boeing is a glamorous, high-flying comedy that will have you in stitches. The plot may be preposterous, the characters may be exaggerated and the comedy may be slapstick but that’s what makes Boeing Boeing so special. Like many great farces, the characters’ fear of being discovered doing something socially unacceptable is at the heart of the play and, whilst it is morally flawed, the plot is just too ridiculous to be taken seriously.

Robin Herford does a fantastic job of directing the small yet talented cast, resulting in a slick production that is well acted. Robin Simpson is superb as Bernard, the philandering Parisian architect who runs his love life by the airline schedule. His ability to physically convey his distress and despondency to great comic effect has the audience in stitches and his personal address at the end of the play makes the performance particularly special.

Ben Porter is equally entertaining as Robert, Bernard’s timid old school friend who gets caught up in the love triangle. Daft, goofy and incredibly funny, it is clear to see that Porter has a natural flare for physical comedy and arguably works the hardest of all the cast members by appearing in almost every scene.

The true stars, however, are women in Bernard’s life. Laura Doddington is superb as Gloria, Bernard’s American fiancée, as is Maeve Larkin as Gabriella, Bernard’s Italian fiancée. Gilly Tompkins plays a strong role as Bertha, Bernard’s loyal housemaid, but it’s Sarah Lawrie that gets the most laughs as Bernard’s German fiancée, Gretchen.

The show’s visual aesthetics are brought to life via the in-house stage and wardrobe departments. Michael Holt’s stage design is particularly worth a mention, bringing to life Bernard’s swish Parisian apartment which is suitably conventional and stylish.

Daft, quick-witted and incredibly funny, Boeing Boeing is a high flying, fast moving comedy that is sure to have you in stitches. A First Class production with an incredibly talented cast.

Runs until 6 June

Reviewer: Donna Kelly