Boeing Boeing

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Previewed 3 February 2007, Opened 15 February 2007, Closed 5 January 2008 at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London

A major revival of Marc Camoletti's comedy Boeing-Boeing in London directed by Matthew Warchus.

In Boeing Boeing Bernard thought he could easily cope with his three air hostess fiancees - after all he lived close to the Orly Airport in Paris and so it was just a question of plane timetables and his reliable maid who never forgot to change the photographs in the bedroom. But then, when the new 'Super' Boeing plane - with its faster flights - takes over he is landed with a triple problem. To add to the problem his old school friend Robert arrives unexpectedly and joins the jet set in a whirl of confusion and matchmaking.

The cast for BoeingBoeing in London features Adrian Dunbar in the central role of 'Bernard'; Neil Stuke as 'Robert', Bernard's friend, who arrives unexpectedly to stay for a few days while he is in Paris; and Patricia Hodge as 'Bertha' the maid who tries to keep things organised - with the right food prepared for the right Air Stewardess, and the right photos on display! The production is directed by Matthew Warchus with designs by Rob Howell, lighting by Hugh Vanstone, music by Claire van Kampen and sound by Simon Baker. The original cast featured Roger Allam as 'Bernard', Mark Rylance as 'Robert' and Frances de la Tour as 'Bertha' with Daisy Beaumont as the Italian 'Miss Alitalia' Gabriella, Michelle Gomez as the German 'Miss Lufthansa' Gretchen and Tamzin Outhwaite as the American 'Miss TWA' Gloria. Subsequent cast members included Kevin R McNally, Jean Marsh, Rhea Perlman, Jennifer Ellison and Elena Roger.

"Normally it works out perfectly straightforwardly. Two days Gloria, two days Gabriella, and two days Gretchen. I'll show you how it works. Now then, Gretchen gets in from Stockholm this evening; at the same time, Gabriella, who has to fly out this afternoon, gets to Cairo, and Gloria will already be between New York and San Francisco - you see the work I have to do? Pure mathematics. Everything organised, regulated and working to the precise second. The earth revolves on its axis and my fiancees fly above the earth. One this way. One that. One towards the sun. One towards the moon. And eventually they all, in turn, come home to me. No alarms, no surprises. It's geometrical, so exact as to be almost poetic. And here I sit in the middle - the perfect example of polygamous despotism. Perfectly satisfied and healthy too. I don't just change my fiancees, I change my diet as well. It's like living in a restaurant. So there's no chance of ever getting bored. Either at table, or in bed. It's ideal." - Bernard described to his friend Robert just how his 'system' works in Boeing Boeing.

But Gloria, the American Stewardess, tells Bernard some 'good news': "You know, darling, I'm really very happy. I'm happy because I think they're going to transfer me to a new machine. Brand new. The Super-Boeing. It's just fantastic. Delta wings and four Rolls-Royce turbo-jets. And do you know, darling, each jet has a thrust of nineteen thousand pounds. It'll make the journey so much faster, darling. So I'll be here more often and we can spend more time together..."

"This production, directed by Matthew Warchus and translated by Beverley Cross, has the words 'stonking great West End hit' written all over it. Maybe back in the 1980s, we couldn't see the funny side of such a funny play; maybe at that point we hadn't yet come to appreciate what post-ironic meant; or maybe a cast like this could make even cod and chips taste like Beluga caviar... The revelation of the evening was, however, Roger Allam... he is almost irritatingly brilliant. In his voice - which comes sometimes from deep within his belly - and in his dark, smouldering eyes and aggressive posture, he has in his acting the same quality of danger that was always a feature of Sir Robert Stephens's stage performances. I can think of no higher compliment than to say that Allam is Sir Robert's natural heir." The Sunday Telegraph

"Marc Camoletti's Sixties sex farce concerns Bernard, who lives near Paris's Orly airport and has three air stewardess girlfriends, each of whom thinks she's the only one. Bernard's encyclopaedic knowledge of airline timetables enables him to keep track of the girls, until his old friend, Robert, arrives from the country at his chic Paris penthouse (circular, with seven doors). Suddenly, the scheduling goes awry, with hilarious consequences. Of course, it's dated, but thanks to a Concorde cast, deliciously so; Matthew Warchus's jetpropelled production soars... It's Mark Rylance as Robert who dazzles. Weighed down by his heavy tweed suit and inexperience with women, his expression of wonder and bemusement as he watches Tamzin Outhwaite's blonde bombshell eat Bernard's face is alone worth the price of a ticket. His timing is as miraculous as his detail. Fasten your seatbelts for the most deliriously funny flight of your life." The Mail on Sunday

"With Roger Allam initially exuding laid-back complacency as the Parisian lothario, Mark Rylance as the old friend gawping at his dexterity, and Frances de la Tour as the glum factotum who must adjust her cooking to the airline schedules, Matthew Warchus's revival is funny enough for us to overlook implausibilities even more extreme than in 1962. Imagine today's planes arriving on time with such unerring precision that these serial mistresses can keep popping into the same bed without grazing each other's passing bottoms... What's striking about Matthew Warchus's production isn't so much the big ha-ha moments, with Rylance's flummoxed Robert ensuring that Daisy Beaumont's flamboyantly Italian Gabriella doesn't invade the room in which Michelle Gomez's fiercely Germanic Gretchen is secreted, or Allam's Bernard trying to curb Tamzin Outhwaite's brashly American Gloria. No, the revival is at its best when comedy as opposed to farce is required." The Times

"Matthew Warchus has given it the de luxe treatment, with a cast led by three stars Roger Allam, Frances de la Tour and Mark Rylance who have the kind of experience in Shakespeare & Co that would have seemed superfluous to the original cast. They turn Boeing Boeing into a big event: not just the funniest show in town but a sensuous triumph where you watch first-rate acting as a miracle to be savoured. And they are aided and abetted by Tamzin Outhwaite, Daisy Beaumont and Michelle Gomez each delicious." The Financial Times

Boeing Boeing originally opened at The Apollo Theatre in London's West End in February 1962 where it went on to enjoy record breaking seven year run of 2,035 performances. The comedy transferred to Broadway in 1965, but only managed a short three week run of 23 performances, although later teh same year it was made into a film starring Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis in 1965. Boeing-Boeing was Marc Camoletti's first great British success. In 1991, it was listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the most performed French play throughout the world. A later play by Marc Camoletti, Don't Dress For Dinner, also ran for seven years in London's West End, transferring from the Apollo Theatre to the Duchess Theatre. A French citizen, born in Geneva in 1923 with Italian family origins, Marc Camoletti was also a talented artist. He had five major exhibitions in Paris and the provinces and many of his painting sold to private collectors. His theatre career got of to a flying start when, in 1958, three of his plays were presented simultaneously in paris, the first, La Bonne Anna, running for 1300 performances. In a long theatrical career, Marc Camoletti gained worldwide acclaim through the multitude of productions of his plays in numerous languages in some 55 countries.In Paris alone 18 of his plays have enjoyed around 20,000 performances in all. An Associate of the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts, Marc Camoletti became a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur - one of France's highest honours. He died in 2003.

Boeing Boeing in London at the Harold Pinter Theatre previewed from 3 February 2007, opened on 15 February 2007 and closed on 5 January 2008.