Friday, 26 July 2013 12:44

Farce Soars at Circle Theatre

Written by  Allison Parker
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Circle Theatre, Grand Rapids
Aug. 8-10, 14-18, 21-24; show times at 5 and 7:30 p.m.
$23-$25, (616) 456-6656

For Boeing-Boeing’s Bernard, love has always been a smooth cruise through clear skies. As an adroit juggler of three stewardess fiancés, the suave Parisian thinks he knows how to handle women. But fasten your seatbelts, folks.

When a fast new jet changes timetables, the playboy’s plans take an unexpected nosedive and all three women arrive at his apartment at once. Uproarious chaos ensues as Bernard desperately attempts to keep the international beauties from discovering each other.

Adapted from the most performed French play in the world, the 2008 Broadway revival edition of Boeing-Boeing is touching down at Circle Theatre. Hailed by audiences and critics alike for its costumes, sound design and storyline, the production scored Best Revival of a Play at the Tony Awards.

For Director Tom Kaechele, the main thrust of the play is its deep roots in the farce tradition, a genre near and dear to Kaechele’s heart.

“I’ve been known over at Circle Theatre for doing farces,” Kaechele said. “There’s something about doing farce that floats my boat. I like to play around with humorous material. It’s difficult to make an audience actually genuinely laugh, so unlocking laughter in an audience I find fun … Part of the fun of farce is what physical things to do with a character to eek out another laugh.”

In Boeing-Boeing, sets and costumes take on a crucial role in helping performers milk every last giggle. The play takes place in Bernard’s living room, in which seven doors provide plenty of opportunity for frenzied chaos as Bernard attempts to hide the three women from each other. An extra sturdy design allows walls to withstand explosive door-slams, while padding in the carpets and costumes permit the humor to get physical.

Within this perfect slap-stick setup, carefully choreographed movements and gutsy deliveries build upon each other to push the comedy an extra step further.

“My favorite part of farce is the end when it seems like it can’t get any more ridiculous and then it does; the wonderful moments like that is where the big belly laughs come," Kaechele said. "It’s all about really good timing and attention to detail ... It’s gonna be a sexy, physical romp, so the actors really gotta bring that energy."

With its over-the-top antics and dated, cheeky sexism, Boeing-Boeing does not presume to be intellectual or profound. Rather, it offers fun summer entertainment meant for relaxation. 

“If people think, they won’t laugh, so you have to get them not to think,” Kaechele said. “[The show is] set in the '60s. It’s not pointing a contemporary finger at a current situation, so it becomes charming because of that … Circle Theatre is a great place to relax and enjoy theater. It’s a great place to check your brain at the door.”

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