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Boeing! Boeing! A Must-See Comedy at the Queen’s, Hornchurch

24th March 2015
Posted by Ros Connors

It’s not so much a matter of Boeing! Boeing! now, but of Going! Going! because if you don’t hurry, it will be gone. The show runs to March 28th and is playing to pretty full houses: you can count on the public to know a good thing when they see it. And cut to the chase the Queen’s Theatre’s own unique repertory company of actor-musicians, has delivered another stonking good show.

Of course, the raw material is pretty good stuff. It’s French farce par excellence and better still, it’s in English. It’s graced by a vibrant and stylish set that proves yet again how important well designed sets really are in creating a sense of period, time and place.

Timing is at the heart of the plot. It’s the early sixties, a time when air travel is at its most glamorous and thanks to the latest generation of jets, both rapid and comfortable. The work of the air hostess is much sought after for its image and the freedom to travel the world that it offers. Of course, the hostesses wear fashionably smart airline livery uniforms with short pencil skirts, trim box jackets, a badged hat and neatly tied scarf all in the airline colour scheme. They even carry the regulation issue airline shoulder bag in the colour to match their uniforms.

Bernard has a rather desirable Paris apartment. He’s a dedicated bachelor who has found a clever way of having a variety of female company without complications. He chooses three hostesses, all working for different airlines. He uses the published schedules to ensure that his three trolley dolly fiancées can never meet. This three-timing scheme has worked perfectly thanks to airline punctuality, some precise planning and a discreet but helpful maid. Each of the air hostesses loves him madly and for each he arranges appropriate photos on show and food to their individual tastes.

Of course, things do go somewhat awry. A somewhat strait-laced Scottish male friend comes to stay, a transatlantic flight has to turn back, another flight is stopped by bad weather and the ingredients are in place for a fast moving, riotous to-ing and fro-ing that confuses Bernard, frustrates the girls and ends up with a surprising dénouement.

From wardrobe through to set design and lighting the backstage work is of the highest order. The cast is very very good, with Fred Broom displaying his sure comedic touch as Bernard and Tom Cornish displaying masterly timing. The three hostesses, Ellie Rose Boswell as the somewhat domineering American, Joanna Hickman as the sauerkraut loving German and Sarah Mahony as the impassioned Italian, are all played with panache. But it is the plain, drab maid Bertha played exquisitely by Megan Leigh Mason who has one of those beautiful touches of genius that draws immediate appreciation from the audience: a sure sign of masterly direction from Matt Devitt.

In short, do I recommend Boeing! Boeing? Not half.

If you have not yet been to the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch, then I suggest you try Boeing! Boeing! for starters. The theatre has a friendly atmosphere thanks to a strong body of regular theatregoers and that wonderful sense of being at a creative hub rather than just a performance venue. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that the Queen’s Theatre has its own resident repertory company. The theatre’s outreach work within the community may be a factor or even the Queen’s Theatre Club. Whatever the reasons, book a seat for the comedy trip of the year: there’s plenty of legroom. The box office is on 01708 443333.

Yvonne Williams – Gateway 97.8

Listen to Ros Connors’ Drivetime interview with Fred Broom who plays Bernard.