Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

January 21, 2012


Hartford Stage, Hartford, CT
through February 5, 2012
by Jarice Hanson

While great plays are timeless, some plays are better suited to the era in which they were written. “Boeing-Boeing” is a good example of a play that encapsulates the 1960’s fascination with jet travel, breaking sexual mores, and women’s liberation, but satisfies that theater-goer’s appetite for substance by feeding them a Twinkie. While “Boeing-Boeing” won the Broadway 2009 Tony for Best Revival a Play, the Hartford Stage production tries, but fails to energize this tired farce.

Director Maxwell Williams cleverly uses conventions of 1960’s television shows to place the plot in the appropriate era, but the story of an American man who has three fianc├ęs from different countries, all of whom are “air hostesses,” relies on stereotypes; the ditzy American, the passionate Italian, and the Teutonic steamroller from Germany. The most well-crafted role in the play is that of a nerdy Wisconsonite male friend who comes for a visit, well played by Ryan Farley – a master of slapstick. From the start, the audience knows that the situation will get out of hand when all three women converge upon the apartment at the same time—no spoiler alert needed. 

The cast tries to overcome the thin script with abundant energy, and the three characters who deliver lines with accents effectively enunciate, though their tongue-twisting efforts result in occasionally bobbled lines. The 1960’s bachelor pad set is elegant, but simple, as is the plot. Each of the women’s costumes is color coordinated with the airline for which she works—and the audience is asked to believe that even on their days off, the stewardesses lounge in their uniforms, leading one to believe that the audience for the show is thought to be so dim that they might not be able to tell who’s who if the color-coding scheme falls apart.