While Home Made Theater’s production of Marc Camoletti’s 1962 French farce “Boeing Boeing” is the success that it is thanks to terrific ensemble acting, technical excellence from the design team and inspired direction from Michael McDermott and Michael Mensching, there can be no underestimating the wildly unbuttoned performance of film star Jim Carrey.
WHERE: Home Made Theater, Spa Little Theater, Saratoga Springs
WHEN: Through May 4
HOW MUCH: $26, $23
MORE INFO: 587-4427, or www.homemadetheater.org
Oh, wait. That’s not Carrey. That’s Nick Casey!
If you were at Friday’s opening, you, too, might have thought the rubber-faced, gawky, toothy Carrey was holding forth as nerdy Robert, a Wisconsinite visiting his friend, debonair Bernard (Conrad Browne Lörcher) in Paris, who’s the sly guide to a young bachelor’s dream lifestyle.
Architect Bernard has figured out a way to woo three airline stewardesses at the same time, to make each believe she is his fiancée, and to reap the domestic benefits of such a ruse. His technique? Carefully track their incoming and outgoing flights, so no one — not American Gloria (Erin Giacomino), Italian Gabriella (Melinda Richner) or German Gretchen (Kathryn Starczewski) — ever bumps into the others at his upscale pad. Bernard is aided, rather reluctantly, by his French housekeeper, Berthe (Robin Leary), who changes photos and cuisines to accommodate the next arrival.
Of course, the more sure of his success Bernard is, the more likely it is he will fail: this is a comedy, after all. Soon, the six doors of this smartly appointed mid-century modern apartment are opening and shutting at a frantic pace as quick-witted Robert, once Bernard’s admirer, now finds himself his savior, stashing one bewildered beauty here and canoodling with another there, all in an effort to maintain the status quo.
Truth be told, the production gets all it can from a script that is sometimes wearisome. Camoletti resorts to a couple of repeated techniques to keep the women off their guard (and it’s all silly, naturally: no one would ever not guess that something is going on), one of which involves the men yelling and acting flustered, a response that quickly loses its humorous punch.
The best comedy actually comes in quieter moments, thanks to the experience of McDermott and Mensching. For example, Leary almost steals the show in a carefully choreographed and brilliantly executed drunk scene. Giacomino and Casey are sweetly goofy in a make-out episode. Casey’s ride on a bar chair is priceless. And Casey and Lörcher, up against the wall stage left near play’s end, strike a pose apt for their situation. Add other visual bits, a clever curtain speech, and voilà — a funny show.
Similar only in their devotion to Bernard, the three airborne charmers are as distinct as their variously colored flight bags, thanks to this trio of accomplished actresses. Starczewski’s Gretchen is a tough cookie, amusingly undone at the end by Robert’s charms. Richner’s Gabriella is all passion, both adorable and scary (and Richner’s accent is spot-on throughout). And Giacomino’s Gloria is dumb like a fox!
Leary gets laughs from her droll deliveries and put-upon pusses. Lörcher does some heavy lifting as smug Bernard with great style, and Carrey’s — er, Casey’s — Robert is a tour de force. This young actor thoroughly inhabits the physical, vocal and emotional nooks and crannies of his wacky character.
Find time to see “Boeing Boeing.”