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Trinity’s Boeing-Boeing

Come fly with me . . . and me and me
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  April 24, 2012

TURBULENCE Morgan, Wilson, Jr., Thorne, and Dolan.

Oh, what a tangled web they weave. When male chauvinist pigs (a once flourishing, now supposedly extinct species) practiced to deceive, unless they were very, very good at it, mayhem frequently ensued. Such results could be knee-slappingly funny, as is being demonstrated in Boeing-Boeing, by Marc Camoletti, at Trinity Repertory Company through May 13.

This is a French farce and as such earns extra bona fides from the likes of Feydeau and Molière as slammed-door precursors. Despite standing among such farcical royalty, Camoletti managed a remarkable coup: since its premiere in 1962, this has become the most frequently performed French play in the world.

At Trinity it gets bonus laff riot incitement from being directed by company veteran actor Fred Sullivan, Jr., who never settles for coaxing out a laugh when he can trigger a guffaw. On Patrick Lynch's sleek bachelor pad set, there are eight doors but no visible trampolines, yet Sullivan creates that impression. In this hectic story, characters don't merely trade words but exchange them in fusillades; they don't stand around when they can jump about and don't cross the stage when they can bound.

Bernard, a well-heeled American architect (in the American version) living in Paris, is quite the bounder, as played with oily assurance and eventually wide-eyed panic by Joe Wilson, Jr. With the aid of a dictionary-thick volume containing airline schedules, he has been successfully juggling assignations with three airline stewardess "fiancées." As a Frank Sinatra-inspired portrait in "ring-a-ding-ding" mode indicates, this is the 1960s, when men were men and women were compliant playthings, at their guy's beck and booty call. National Airlines actually had a "Fly Me" ad campaign ("I'm Maggie. Fly me to Europe"). No kidding.

Bernard has determined that three women are the right number to juggle. Gloria (Rebecca Gibel) is an aggressive American, with TWA. Gabriella (Liz Morgan) is an animated brunette with Alitalia. Gretchen (Amanda Dolan), the Lufthansa stewardess, is the most hot-blooded — an American playwright would probably have her be the Italian, but the French have their own ethnic stereotypes.

Two other characters are following the shenanigans with opposite responses. Bernard's overworked maid, Bertha (Nance Williamson), grows increasingly exasperated as she has to keep track of and replace such items as framed photographs and favorite flowers as the women come and go. An old college chum, Robert (Stephen Thorne), has just moved to Paris and is invited by his friend to stay in his apartment until he finds a place. Poor Robert, an insecure Midwesterner usually shy around women, grows increasingly horny as he gets acquainted with the lubricious lovelies, to additional comical effect.

The playwright has great fun exaggerating, especially when targeting American ways. Gibel's blond hottie Gloria, who calls Bernard "lava lips," likes ketchup on her pancakes and whipped cream on her franks and kraut. Robert, when asked if he's engaged, replies: "No, not yet. I'm from Wisconsin." (There is a "girl" he's thinking about marrying, but he's not sure where she lives.)

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