Thursday, May 22, 2008

Boeing Boeing

This door-slamming "Coffee Tea Or Me"-era farce, in which a fast-on-his-feet bachelor gives the revolving door treatment to three fiances who all happen to be estewardesses, shouldn't be as entertaining as it is: the script is short on laugh lines, and the premise smells of yesteryear's sexism. Yet it's lively ridiculous fun anyhow: thanks partly to the choice to emphasize the immaturity of the bachelor (Bradley Whitford, who even skips around the stage) and the over-the-top sexual ferocity of the stewardesses, the show plays like a cartoon and the punchline is squarely on the three-timer. The show wastes Christine Baranski - she does all she can, but her role as the household's French maid doesn't register as much more than double takes - and I'm in the minority to find the characterization choices by Mark Rylance, as the bachelor's sidekick, to be too oddball and out-there to mesh with the material. But the stewardesses are silly, delicious joy: Gina Gershon as the passionate Italian, Kathryn Hahn as the spoiled American, and most sensationally Mary McCormack as the dominating German. No one will mistake this play for top-drawer farce, but those gals make Boeing Boeing the funniest show on Broadway this season.

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