STAGE REVIEW

Boeing Boeing

Mary McCormack, Christine Baranski | Christine baranski and mary mccormack
Christine baranski and mary mccormack

Is there anything more old-fashioned than a French farce (of the slamming doors variety)? Amazingly, this relic from 1962 still works. Mostly. Bradley Whitford plays a bachelor in an ultra-mod Paris apartment, juggling three different fiancées, each of whom works as an ''air hostess'' for a different airline working different routes, as his long-suffering, rather snooty French maid (Christine Baranski) looks on in dismay. Once the set-up is out of the way, and the ladies all begin to converge on the apartment at once, the play takes flight with jet-powered hilarity. Yes, Boeing shamelessly trades in national stereotypes: Mary McCormack's German stewardess is a strong-willed tyrant, Gina Gershon's Italian a sultry tease, and Kathryn Hahn's American a perky but practical New Yorker. Whitford is actually the weak link, a little too spastic to be believable as the consummate ladies' man.

But Boeing Boeing's centerpiece is Mark Rylance, a holdover from last year's hit London production, who plays a school chum of our roué hero who's in town from Wisconsin (in London, he hailed from Wales). As the innocent in this strange and salacious new world, Rylance pilots this comedy with the deadliest of deadpans and generates big laughs simply by licking his lips (admittedly, he's just experienced a particularly powerful lip-lock with one of the heroines). With Rylance on stage, there's no danger of the show losing altitude despite all the comic turbulence. (Tickets: 800-432-7780) A-

Originally posted May 12, 2008