Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Boeing Boeing

Photo/Sara Krulwich

Not that Broadway needs more mindless entertainment, but here comes a commercial comedy: yes, I'm talking about Boeing Boeing. I like my comedy to be as crisp as airline peanuts, so I was happily surprised to see understudy Roxanna Hope as the kinky American stewardess (one of the three that bachelor Bernard is juggling on separate timetables), and pleased to see that there was merit to Mark Rylance's Tony win. As Robert, Bernard's straight-laced (soon-to-be unlaced) friend, Rylance is unapologetically apoplectic as he frets his way through one hell of a coverup, and he shows a marvelous range as he goes from mild-mannered to tentitively suave and hesitatingly sexual. (Think Bill Irwin.) But the rest of the cast made me feel as if were riding in coach: Bradley Whitford takes far too long to warm up, and when he does, he never seems as invested as Rylance, and the other two stewardesses, Gina Gershon and Mary McCormack (a jealous, sharp Italian and a booming, obsessive German) are so exaggerated that it's sometimes hard to understand what they're saying. This sex comedy may be about broads, but I'd have liked Matthew Warchus to make all the racing around just a little less broad: as tight, specific, and polished as Christine Baranski's deadpan.

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