Friday, April 25, 2008

Boeing Boeing

Funny how things can change. I was in the slough of despond yesterday, and today things seem much perkier. (Thank you all for your kind comments & emails). Prescient Dressed & Pressed is so right: cake is always the answer. Or, in my case, a roll of pre-made Tollhouse cookie dough.

I managed to sleep before 3am, and consequently am awake bright & early today without feeling that my half my day has been wasted. It’s a beautiful day, not as hot as yesterday (knocking 80F) but clear & fresh. I’m revelling in the humidity-free sunshine. It won’t be many weeks before what equates now to a perfect English summer’s day turns in to an urban sweat bath.

Just when I was at my grumpiest yesterday afternoon, wonderful, uplifting O rang to get a number and then,, on the spur of the moment invited me to take the place of her husband (away on business) at the theatre that night.

We convened at Joe Allen with her two urbane & beyond charming GBFs at 7 for pre-theatre supper. I love going out with O: she’s by far my most fashionable and chic friend (two things that don’t always go together), and so together we tip-tapped our way to the compact Longacre Theatre round the corner, she in her strappy & very complicated lizard Louboutins and me in my vertiginous brown suede Michael Kors sandals.

My first Broadway experience! And one much like the West End, to be honest, all gilt proscenium arch, boxes and velvet curtains, although no usherettes with ice cream trays around their necks in the interval (boo) and a standing ovation at the end, something that rarely, if ever, happens with restrained English audiences.

We were to see a preview of Boeing Boeing, directed by Matthew Warchus who transfers the production from London’s Comedy theatre. The play is a 1960’s French farce, made immediately obvious by a wonderful modernist standing set (Barcelona chairs, glass desk & pendant lamps)) with seven doors. (All farces need lots of doors so that people can hide, misunderstandings can be created, and characters can appear at precisely the wrong moment).

A truly stellar cast got the audience on-side from the off. Glorious Englishman Mark Rylance, (the only original cast member), Gina Gershon, Kathryn Hahn & Mary McCormack star alongside multi-award winners Christine Baranski (Cybil) & Bradley Whitford (The West Wing).

I found the actors’ projection somewhat screechy to start with, Hahn's overly mannered American air hostess sounds like an aural cheese grater & Baranski's housekeeper's faux French accent is less than authentic, but the sheer exuberance & physicality with which the compact cast throws itself into the script can’t help but engage an audience ready to clap each famous actor’s first entrance.

We were swept along on a rising crest of hilarity that threatened but never broke into hysteria. The cast knows just when to milk the script, which is very much a period piece (minxy air stewardesses, TWA & PAN-AM, telegrams), but the concept of a confirmed bachelor juggling three air hostess fiancées as they fly in & out or Paris - & his apartment - on carefully calibrated airline timetables has stood the test of time and makes for a thoroughly amusing evening.