It’s always important for a theater season to end on a high note, ensuring that audiences will eagerly anticipate the following year. After a mixed year, with more hits than misses, Trinity Repertory Company ends on a high note with their production of the uproarious comedy, Boeing, Boeing, directed by company member Fred Sullivan, Jr. With this breezy play that flies by like a 747, Sullivan and his perfect cast keep audiences laughing riotously from takeoff to landing.
Bernard, an American living inParis, has devised a way to have three fiancés at the same time. They are all stewardesses, flying for different airlines on different flight schedules, and by keeping close track of their departures and arrivals, he juggles them with precision. An old friend from school, Robert, arrives to visit and things soon begin to fall apart, as each lady of the sky drops in unexpectedly.
Company member Joe Wilson, Jr. plays the lothario Bernard and it’s his best performance of the season. While his style is often too-stiff and overly serious, it works in his favor this time around. This is due to how much fun it is watching him play opposite to that, seeing him completely unravel as his stiffness gives way to panic attacks, freaking out and completely losing his cool.
Bernard’s “international harem” of fiancés includes three women, each with a different nationality and a name beginning with “G.” First, my least favorite is Gloria, the American. Actress Rebecca Gibel is a lot of fun to watch but the character is little more than a stereotype, a loud, obnoxious, brassy and promiscuous American blonde.
Second is the French Gabriella, played by Liz Morgan. Morgan is given a little more to do, as Gabriella gets to have some emotions and is a more fleshed out character. She’s still a little one-note, as “violent tempered” is her major, if not only, personality trait. Still, Morgan is delightful and hilarious in the role.
Finally, easily my favorite of the three is Gretchen, the German. She’s the most like a real person and the least like a caricature or stereotype. She’s also played perfectly by Amanda Dolan, who gives Gretchen some real life and real emotions, ranging from joy to devastation to sadness to love. Of the three, she lights up the stage the brightest.
Bernard is supported by his French maid, Bertha. Not like the other French maids you’ve seen, Bertha is older, world-weary, bitter and jaded. Her caustic and sarcastic sense of humor hysterical as she tries to hold herself together while she’s caught up in the whirlwind. Actress Nance Williamson gets a lot of laugh lines in the role and hits almost every one perfectly.
Truly, the show belongs to Trinity company member Stephen Thorne as Robert. He has shined in supporting roles all season and it’s great to see him given something that allows him to really show off what he can do. Like a young Dick Van Dyke, he has impressive control of his body and ability to use it for physical comedy. At the same time, he’s an immensely talented actor who takes the pilot’s chair in this production and propels it into the stratosphere. Everyone should buckle their seat belts and join him for the ride.
Boeing-Boeing, Trinity Rep,201 Washington St,Providence. www.trinityrep.com Runs thru May 13