Farce in Flight: Repertory Philippines Presents Boeing Boeing

REPERTORY Philippines opens its 2013 season with Boeing Boeing, a comedy set in the 1960s about an American playboy juggling an “international harem” of three fiancées all at the same time. How does he accomplish such a feat? With some very exact planning and a whole lot of gall.Boeing Boeing

Bernard Whitford (David Bianco) is an American architect based in Paris. He transforms his bachelor pad into a love nest whenever one of his three fiancées is in town. Depending on the day and time, he could be entertaining either Gloria from the USA (Jennifer Blair-Bianco), Gretchen from Germany (Carla Dunareanu), or Gabriella from Italy (Giannina Ocampo).

Each girl is an air hostess from a different airline and thus has her own particular flight schedule. With the invaluable assistance of Bertha (Baby Barredo, with Joy Virata as alternate), his long-suffering housekeeper slash love life air traffic controller, and Robert (Topper Fabregas), his wet-behind-the-ears best friend, Bernard succeeds in maintaining a happy household thrice over with each girl none the wiser about the other and the other.

All is well until the introduction of the new Boeing jet, which revolutionizes air travel by making flights so much faster. This innovation throws Bernard’s careful plans out the window and into chaos: hilarious, ridiculous chaos.

David Bianco makes an absolutely dapper playboy, the perfect balance of sleazy and suave. He is charming, and, as his timetables go awry, even able to elicit a little bit sympathy from an audience who knew he had it coming all along.

Bernard’s three fiancées are all one-dimensional racial stereotypes of their country of origin, and that’s a large part of what makes the play so funny. The three actresses all take their roles with no holds barred, and their committed performances contribute greatly to the success of the production.

Jen Bianco was engaging and lovable as the saucy Southern belle who takes no prisoners. She lays it on thick, like the molasses her character likes to pour on pancakes, and she wins the audience over when she turns some tables in the end.

Carla Dunareanu stole the show as the melodramatic German. Her accent was spot on and her unpredictable swings from quiet to crazy were natural and believable. Every minute she was on stage was a treat.

Giannina Ocampo was an excellent fit in her role as the sweet yet sexy Italian girl with domestic dreams. She gave an endearing performance, though her accent could have been more pronounced and those quintessentially Italian hand gestures could have been more exaggerated. Of the three, she was the tamest.

Baby Barredo brings a lot of sass and spunk to her portrayal of Bertha, making her less of a French maid and more of a Filipino mayordomo. She’s outspoken and irreverent, and her snide remarks and biting one-liners are a great source of laughs. Truly, yaya is boss.

Topper Fabregas puts the “aww” in aww-dorable as Robert. He is lovable as a lost little boy overwhelmed by the bright lights — and beautiful girls — of the big European city.

The story of Boeing Boeing unfurls under the stage direction and set design of the indomitable Miguel Faustmann. The story takes place in the living room of Bernard’s apartment, with exits and entrances happening through seven doors arranged in a semi-circle around the stage. Careful comedic timing ensures that the doors open and close on cue, with seconds or less separating one door from the next. The unexpected entrances and the speedy door slamming is a source of laughter and suspense, especially towards the climax of the play when an early landing, a delayed take-off, and bad weather lead all the characters to converge in one place.

Fasten your seat belts and suspend your disbelief, Boeing Boeing is an enjoyable romp that starts Repertory Philippines’ 76th theater season on a sky-high note.

Rating: 4/5