Opening Nights: Boeing Boeing

Boeing Boeing

Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St. (Seattle Center), 443-2222, $15–$80. Runs Wed.–Sun. Ends May 19.

Everything good about this lollipop of a period piece comes from Seattle Rep, starting with the decision to close its 50th season with this half-century-old play in tribute to the jet-age spirit of our World’s Fair, when an airport lounge was an epicenter of swank and an “air hostess” an archetype of feminine desirability. (Marc Camoletti set his farce in Paris, but it hardly matters; they should have just gone ahead, taking a cue from the title, and recast it in Seattle.)

Corey Wong’s set is a Populuxe fantasy, a Jetsons bachelor pad with an Esquivel soundtrack, from the downstage-center remote-controlled bar (literally a wet bar: It contains an aquarium) to, around the perimeter, the multiple doors every farce requires. This apartment belongs to playboy Bernard (Richard Nguyen Sloniker, radiant with charm), whose scheme to juggle three stewardess girlfriends is threatened when Boeing’s improved engines shorten their flight times and muddle his precision scheduling. As those girls, Bhama Roget, Angela DiMarco, and Cheyenne Casebier pile loads of zip and personality upon Camoletti’s stale ethnic stereotypes: The American Gloria is perky, pushy, and puts ketchup on pancakes; the Italian Gabriella is a molto caldo sexpot; the German Gretchen is a sauerkraut-loving ball-buster with dance moves like a cross between Joey Heatherton and Mike Myers’ Dieter. Mark Bedard stirs the pot as Bernard’s Wally Coxian friend Robert; Anne Allgood makes the very most of the testy maid Berthe.

It’s a bubbly exercise in sheer theatrical style, as sharp and slick as Don Draper’s haircut, in the service of one of the weakest scripts I’ve ever seen on a stage—two hours of flat lines, pointless incidents, and endless expository dialogue. I watched, moment by moment, in disbelief that this was the best the playwright could have come up with. (What happens when you eat a lot of sauerkraut? Yes, Camoletti went there.) Speaking of moving the setting to Seattle: Robert and Gretchen’s bit about confusing two cities both named Aix, which is really all that anchors the play in Europe, could’ve easily been translated to the Northwest’s two Vancouvers. You can’t argue it would be less funny.

Even the promise of the premise was lamely withheld; what finally gets the three G’s in Bernard’s apartment simultaneously is bad weather, not the title company’s technological advances. And as for feeling cheated, don’t even ask how lazily Camoletti untangles his plot. Afterward, I went home to watch a 30 Rock and laughed every eight seconds. So I know it’s not just me.

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