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Shows Worth Seeing:



Boeing Boeing
By Marc Camoletti
Longacre Theatre
220 W. 48th St.
Box office: (212) 239-6200

Judging from the quaint plot setup of Marc Camoletti’s early 1960s farce Boeing Boeing, this new production directed by Matthew Warchus (a partially recast London hit) has no business being as good as it is. A guy living in Paris juggles three “fiancés,” all airline hostesses, by keeping close tabs on their flight schedules to make sure they never overlap . . . until one day a series of mishaps upsets the arrangement. Sheeesh. Sounds like an old Jerry Lewis snore showing at 3 a.m. on basic cable (Lewis starred with Tony Curtis in the 1965 movie adaptation). As it happens, the piece is bright, sharp and ferocious in Warchus’s version. This is partly because the play works better onstage than onscreen—the live presence of the actors really pumps up the risk and hilarity of the physical gags. It's also partly because the director and cast have grasped the basic secret of making farce work: play the aggression, not the clowning or the bubbliness. The clowning and bubbliness will take care of themselves as long as the writer has made the jokes funny (which he has), whereas the pleasure of the chaos—the full measure of the madness and baseness of the farcical world—comes through only if the actors make clear that their characters would gnaw through steel to get what they want. That can be a tough call for beautiful actresses worried about their hair, but here the trio of Kathryn Hahn, Gina Gershon and Mary McCormack have thrown themselves into the game with feral gusto. The results are hilarious. There is also a cunning, slow-cooking performance by Mark Rylance as the buddy of the lead, played by Bradley Whitford, that mustn’t be missed. Boeing Boeing exudes a sweet effervescence that makes the most of its period charm: a moment when the sexual revolution was still fresh, and war, AIDS and internet porn hadn’t yet ruined the party. If you giggled even once or twice at Austin Powers, this play is likely to tickle you.



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