Broadcast Text Reviews: GOODNIGHT MOON and BOEING BOEING

by Lynn on March 4, 2016

in The Passionate Playgoer

The following was broadcast Friday, March 4, 2016. CIUT FRIDAY MORNINT. 89.5 fm. Goodnight Moon at Young People’s Theatre until March 19 and Boeing Boeing at Hart House until March 5, 2016.

The host was Phil Taylor.

Good Friday morning. It’s theatre fix time with Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and passionate playgoer. What’s up this week?

Two shows. One for kids and one for adults. Goodnight Moon is a theatricalization of the beloved children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd. It plays at Young People’s Theatre .

The other is Boeing Boeing a French farce by Marc Camoletti at our own Hart House Theatre until tomorrow.

Let’s start with kids and Goodnight Moon.

It’s the book I give every baby I know and a pair of socks. It’s a classic written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd. For our purposes it’s been adapted by Chad Henry who also wrote the music and lyrics for the piece. It’s produced by Seattle Children’s Theatre, and plays at Young People’s Theatre.

It’s bedtime for Bunny but he does not want to go to sleep. The kindly, patient Old Lady urges him to go to bed. He wants his toy giraffe, bear, kitties etc. She brings them. He wants a glass of water. She reminds him why that’s not a good idea. He persists. She gives him the glass of water. He wants a story read to him.

She pulls out a gigantic book of The Runnaway Bunny, also written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd, and read that to him. He wants her to tuck him in. She does. (I’m exhausted by all this). Bunny settles. The Old Lady leaves. Then the picture of the three bears, above his bed comes to life. There is the need of a tooth fairy. (His tooth is loose.) And there is a cat and mouse that Bunny plays with before he finally goes to bed. He has to go to sleep in order for the Tooth Fairy to be effective.

How does the music come into this?

Characters tap dance when The Runnaway Bunny is being read. They sing about all manner of things, often involving the rest of the animals and things—a dish for example–on stage. There’s juggling, magic and all done while singing.

Does it work at bringing the book to life?

Bunny’s bedroom is in the colours of the book, bright, vibrant blues, greens, yellows and orange/red.

As Bunny, Mike Spee is a sprightly, buoyant presence. He’s impish, childlike, sweet. The other cast members are lively as well.

Director Linda Hartzell keeps everybody moving in a swirl of activity.

But. This is a sweet, little gem of a book. This show is 85 minutes long including a 7 minute stretch break. That’s too long and I must confess I found the whole thing bloated. The Runnaway Bunny is its own separate book, why is it here with Goodnight Moon? The show should be cut to one hour tops. I didn’t get the sense that my young audience (4-5 years old) were engaged for all of it. Cut it to the essence of the book and keep it simple.

And now for something completely different. Boeing Boeing. You are going to have to explain that title.

It refers to the Boeing airplane. And when you repeat the word it sounds like something bouncing or out of control, which sounds right for this play. The French farce by Marc Camoletti is set in Paris in the 1960s.

It’s translated by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans. Bernard is a businessman who likes stewardesses. He has devised a scheme involving meticulous attention to the flight details of all airlines so that he can juggle his time with three stewardesses from three airlines from three countries.

And he’s engaged to all of them. Gloria is from the US. Gabriella is from Italy. Gretchen is from Germany.

Bernard is helped by Berthe, the maid, who seems to be exhausted trying to figure out who is coming for lunch and what to serve, depending on what stewardess will be there. Usually as one stewardess leaves, another is expected in an hour or two. Then Robert, a friend of Bernard’s, drops in and gets involved.

And of course, disaster happens and one stewardess is delayed, another arrives early, and a third returns unexpectedly and Bernard, Robert and Berthe have to make sure that the three ladies don’t meet each other.

Give us a few details about farce.

The story is usually silly. The action has to go at break-neck speed. It usually involves several characters who cannot meet, and several doors through which these characters are either entering or exiting, just missing the people they shouldn’t see. And the doors have to bang and there cannot be a malfunction.

Sounds like a major undertaking. How do the folks do at Hart House.

The folks at Hart House do splendidly. This production is directed with devilish wit and split-second timing by Cory Doran. He has a wonderful sense of the silliness of the piece and also a keen sense of visual humour. There are at least five slamming doors and two other points of entrance that don’t have slamming doors.

Bernard is a three piece suit guy who has it all together except when all three fiancées are on site. Brandon Gillespie plays Bernard with a sense of control that is skin deep but he does know how to think on his feet. Robert, the friend, is played by Andrei Preda, a tall drink of water with a high voice when excited.

The various stewardesses with their varying accents are very funny in their own way—I just wished I could have actually heard what they were saying more clearly. The accents and the speed with which they spoke often got in the way.

For me the best of the good cast is Jill McMillan as Berthe, a husky-voiced French woman with the ennui of a woman who has seen too many stewardesses flying through that apartment. McMillan has attitude, sauciness, and a look of disdain that can whither you.

Boeing Boeing is a dandy piece of theatre and a great occasion to belly laugh.

Thanks Lynn. That’s Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and passionate playgoer. You can read Lynn’s Blog at twitter @slotkinletter.

Goodnight Moon plays at Young People’s Theatre until March 19.

Boeing Boeing plays at Hart House Theatre until March 5.

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