For the actors who appear in them, farces are about balance. Sometimes they need to find the right proportion of character and physicality, and other times they have to allow that equilibrium to tip too far one way and crash into a box of mom’s poorly placed antique designer china.
Hedgerow Theatre Company Member Allison Bloechl, had one more concern while preparing to play Gretchen, the fiery German lover in Marc Camoletti’s Boeing Boeing: honoring the role’s deeper connection to her personal history and making her character authentic and likeable while still making her slightly intimidating.
“I love doing the German dialect,” Bloechl notes. “My family is from Germany and it always reminds me of my grandfather making fun of his stern German mother at family gatherings. That being said, it can be a physically exhausting dialect to get all those consonants out in a way that is true to the language but still understandable.”
Raised on Monty Python VHS tapes and witty wordplay, Bloechl loves nothing more than a good comedic twist. “We all know comedy comes in threes,” she points out, “but when it comes to making me laugh, I love a good twist. I call it ‘once, twice, thrice with a twist.’ A good twist is unbeatable.”
Gretchen is the third and final fiancée of playboy architect Bernard’s ménage à trois scheme of planes and planning. The first is an American, Gloria (played by Meredith Beck) and the second is an Italian, Gabriella (played by Hanna Gaffney). For Bernard, Gretchen is all things German: strength, order, passion.
“I love that there’s no middle ground with Gretchen,” Bloechl says. “She is always at an extreme. She’s not excited, she’s ‘mad with happiness.’ Nothing is ever a half measure.”
As with any farce, the connection between actor and audience must be strong. For Bloechl, balancing the line between just enough and too much has been a process of discovery.
“The challenge for me with this farce,” she states, “has been making Gretchen accessible to audiences. She’s super funny and wonderfully intense, which is so much fun to play; but finding the balance where her intensity is huge, but not distracting, required a lot of work.”
While watching comedy, people laugh at a lot of different thing and for many reasons. In farce, the most important element is the speed of the performance. Timing is king in comedy, and with Boeing Boeing the speed of the play is on point, as reviewers has recognized while praising the whole cast’s skillful execution.
“Farce is faster than anything else. In most realistic or naturalistic plays the character has a processing time to ingest new information before they act. Not the case with farce. You still live the reality of the character, but you lose the moment of deciding what to do next. If realist plays a function as input-reaction-output, farce skips the middle step and goes straight to output,” Bloechl summed up.
Adult ticket prices for Friday, Saturday evening and Sunday shows are $34; Saturday twilight shows are $29. There is a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under and students are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change.
For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).