W!ld Rice’s Boeing Boeing, running at the Victoria Theatre from 23 June to 22 July 2017, tells the tale of playboy bachelor Bernard (Rodney Oliveiro) who is engaged to three air hostesses at the same time – Jeanette (Oon Shu An) who flies with Singapore Airlines, Jayanthi (Sangeetha Dorai) from Air India, and Jin-Jin (Judee Tan) of Air China.
When Bernard’s friend Robert (Shane Mardjuki) from Kuching, Sarawak, drops by for a visit, things go pear-shaped when unfavourable circumstances come together to make all three girls arrive in Singapore at the same time, thereby making Bernard rely on Robert and his housekeeper Rosa (Bibeth Orteza) to keep all three girls from finding out about each other.
Based on the classic French farce of the same name by Marc Camoletti, this English version by Beverly Cross was first adapted by W!ld Rice in 2002. This 2017 version is given a local flavour with plenty of Singlish and references to Singapore.
The show being deliberately absurd in nature, the focus is on slapstick and over-the-top dramatics. Oon, Tan and Mardjuki all shine in this, bringing loads of laughter as they successfully walk the tightrope between melodrama and contrived acting. Under Pam Oei’s expert direction, Oon plays the controlling and overbearing but cunning Jeanette to perfection, and Tan humourously fuses Chinese Wayang moves into her China accent which she employs so naturally.
Oliveiro though is too understated, with limited expressions, and Dorai’s portrayal in places is an overkill. At one point, you could see her take a breath to prepare, before yelling at Bernard, and then try to stifle a laugh after she said her line.
Also, the dialogue in this piece isn’t particularly witty or funny. It is the acting prowess of Oon, Tan and Mardjuki, who manage to skillfully milk their lines, with precision comedic timing and appropriate expressions, gestures and movement, that brings out the funny.
The set is beautifully constructed and looks exactly like a posh apartment, and the colourful costumes add to the fun and quirkiness.
So if you want to enjoy a lighthearted, playful and lively show, do not miss Boeing Boeing – because you don’t always need things serious.