How we loved you--and how our audiences loved you! Boeing Boeing is the most financially successfull show in THEATREWORKS history (Arsenic and Old Lace was second, and the less we think about what this should suggest for our future programming, the better). Among people in the know, critics and snobby theatre people like myself, Boeing Boeing doesn't have a high reputation. Its clunky plot takes a long time getting going, its wit is only fitfully sharp, its jokes are rarely that good, its climax is not orgasmic, its ending rather pat and almost lame. For the most part it can feel like watching a pretty good television sit com written decades ago. That itself may explain why it gives pleasure-- we like being . . comfortable. But I think the great genius of Boeing Boeing is the wonderful women. All of them, the three high flying stewardesses and the dour maid, are all being exploited by the man of the house. But as it turns out it's the women, those manipulated women, who turn out to be the strong characters. Being an air hostess was once a position of power --these women look great (thank you, Jan Avramov!), they feel great, they enjoy being the objects of pleasure and of deserved admiration. They may be serving you up in the air, but they are commanding their aisles with their great legs and tailored suits like Goddesses, with their congregations of little men sit hunched facing forward in their pews, completely dependent on their ministrations. Bernard deserveds what's coming to him, but you can't really blame him from wanthing them all-- they are all so fabulous. And there could be more!-- the tango dancer! the Japanese girl! --- the mind reels. You think you could just order them from the menu--Bernard actually does-- but beware! These women will brook no interference. They want their way, they will get their way --- and they should! Including the overworked maid, who gets her much deserved 40% raise. And everyone is happy. How much better, more fun, and more pleasurable this all is than say a play like The Women, where the females are all so much more bitchy (and wonderfully so) and yet in the end so craven and submissive (it will be interesting to see how the Fine Arts Center deals with this problem next season).
I arrived at the theatre yesterday at intermission so I could see the show go off into the sunset on its last flight. I sat in the house and looked at the audience, warmed up and easy after the first act, wrapped in a semi-circle, almost as if they had their arms around each other. The pleasure of the show -- so confidently and stylishly performed-- and the sudden arrival of warm weather, had everyone all so easy, so lively, like spring birds chirping, suddenly come awake. Everyone was talking, laughing and comfortable---never let me say anything against real comfort ever again. People like being comfortable together. It was kind of a perfect afternoon, giving pleasure I think only theatre can give.
Happy Valentine's day, Diana, Jamie, Adrian, and Jessica! Thank you! Happy Valentine's day Maids, Air Hostesses, Goddesses and Princesses everywhere!
Damian Chesire, Feb. 26. 2011: I am very pleased to hear that Boeing Boeing ranks highly as a financial success for Theatreworks. If you ask the audiences I am sure they would also say that as entertainment it was a winner too. As a production it did what it set out to do and made many, many people very happy and brightened their lives. I am sure it will be the catalyst for greater audiences in the future. Well done everyone