It’s been a long, cold winter in Saskatoon, and we could all use some laughs to help our spirits soar.
Director Johnna Wright is here to help: She’s bringing comedy to the Persephone Theatre stage in the form of Boeing Boeing, a classic farce written by French playwright Marc Camoletti.
“It’s kind of one of those crazy stories of people trying to get away with something that they shouldn’t have done and all the lengths that they have to go to, to cover their tracks,” said Wright, who also serves as Persephone Theatre’s literary manager.
“It’s really, really fun to work on,” she added. “It’s really, really fun for us. So I’m sure even if the audience has half as much fun, they will be very delighted. . . . It’s a good time of year for something that can kind of lighten your mood.”
Billed as “a riotous farce of mile-high proportions,” Boeing Boeing is set in the 1960s with a Mad Men-style vibe. The action centres on swinging bachelor Bernard who is pleased with his life; after all, he has a chic apartment in Paris and is engaged to three flight attendants who don’t know about each other. However, Bernard’s life becomes turbulent as his efforts to juggle all of the relationships take a nosedive and the women show up on his doorstep on the same night.
“Each fiancée is a flight attendant for a different airline, so they never meet each other because they’re always travelling,” said Wright. “Then, as the title suggests, Boeing comes up with a faster jet — and that changes his schedule — and then everything just falls apart. And so he’s left trying to kind of get out of the mess that he’s created for himself. It’s really fun.”
Gaelen Beatty stars as Bernard and Tim Bratton plays Bernard’s bewildered friend, Robert, who struggles to help Bernard with hiding the truth from the flight attendants. The cast also features Barbara Barsky as Berthe, Emma Slip as Gretchen, Anita Smith as Gloria and Megan Zong as Gabriella. In addition to Wright, the creative team includes Carla Orosz (set and costume designer), Andy Forrester (lighting designer), Darren Miller (sound designer), Taegan O’Bertos (assistant set and costume designer), Laura Kennedy (stage manager) and Ricardo Alvarado (assistant stage manager).
For Wright, one of the best parts of working on Boeing Boeing is exploring the cast members’ thoughts on how the show can be staged and how the jokes can work.
“I have an amazing cast of six actors that are all really great comedians, so there’s just so much energy in the room. . . . Discovering all those possibilities is what’s really fun.”
Wright said the show is set in “a great era.” As a result, the production features 1960s décor and attire.
“That’s also really, really fun for the design team to get to play with,” she added.
Ultimately, the script is about men trying to get away with lying to women; as Wright notes, “that’s where the comedy comes from — watching them trying to cover up their lies.” However, what Wright loves about the play is the strength of the female characters.
“The female characters are so strong and so funny. They’re not just kind of dimwits that get fooled; they’re very strong women, and they are formidable. You can see why the guys don’t want to get caught,” she said. “I think that, in the end, you feel like the men have gotten their just desserts.”
Boeing Boeing runs from Feb. 27 to March 13 in Rawlco Radio Hall at the Remai Arts Centre. Tickets range from $30-$54 and are available from the Persephone Theatre box office by calling 306-384-7727 or by going to persephonetheatre.org.