Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A Flea in Her Ear"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"A Flea in Her Ear"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at The Players is a new version of George Feydeau's "A Flea in Her Ear" by David Ives. The play is considered one of the greatest French farces ever written. Madame Raymonde Chandebise becomes obsessed with the notion that her husband Victor's lack of interest in sex with her means he has taken to seeing other women. He is a placid and successful insurance executive. To find out if her suspicions are correct, she has her best friend, Lucienne, write an anonymous letter proposing a rendezvous at the disreputable Frisky Puss Hotel. Victor thinks the letter is for his coworker, the gigolo, Tournel. He sends him in his place to the rendezvous. Meanwhile, Camille, Victor's nephew, is overjoyed to have his speech impediment corrected by Dr. Finache. In celebration, he and the household cook, Antoinette also hurry to the same hotel. They are followed by her jealous husband, Etienne, the Chandebise's valet while the doctor decides to go there for an afternoon fling, too. Meanwhile, Lucienne's jealous Spanish husband, Carlos shows up with pistols and Camille is unable to warn anyone because of his ridiculous speech impediment. A drunken bellboy, Poche is an exact double of Victor and Raymonde thinking it is her husband, keeps trying to escape from the hotel with Tournel who incessantly tries to seduce her. A revolving bed keeps flinging them from room to room. All the people that went to the hotel return to the Chandebise home utterly confused about what happened at the Frisky Puss with Ferralion, Eugenie and Poche putting in appearances there, but since this is a farce, all things eventually work themselves out and Raymonde's flea in her ear disappears. Director Vincent Lupino casts some wonderful performers in these madcap roles.

He sets the show in Paris in 1931 and does an excellent job with the physical humor and sight gags in this show, giving his cast clever bits of business to do. Vincent also designed the gorgeous turnable set while Marcia Zammerelli designed gorgeous period costumes for the show. Stage manager Laura Beauregard-Tvahora keeps things running smoothly all night long. Michael Johnson plays the dual role of Victor and the hotel porter,Poche. He shows his range as an actor going from wealthy husband to drunken, buffoonish oaf with ease. Michael does a very comical walk and laugh as the bell hop. One of the funniest scenes is when he changes characters on a dime, running around the stage like a whirling dervish. Michael knows how to work the crowd and obtains many laughs from them. Margarita Martinez,a beautiful brunette plays Raymonde. She makes the exposition of the show fly by and displays her jealous behavior as she explains her husband's lack of interest in sex lately after having been a marvel in the bedroom in the past. The hilarious scenes with Tournel in the whorehouse are outstanding as they run all around the hotel being pursued by various people. Margarita's comic behavior adds to the merriment of the show. David DeAlmo displays the egotistical behavior needed for Tournel. His conceited and arrogant posturing and proclamations that he can woo any woman he wants is excellent. David wins many laughs as this pompous playboy and his funniest scenes are when Don Carlos threatens him and Pouche kisses Raymonde and him as well as when he kisses Raymonde's hand. Lauren Odenwalder, a gorgeous blonde,shines as Lucienne who plots and plans with Raymonde to make Victor pay for his suspected behavior. She is very funny as their plans fall apart and the women are caught up by their own misdeeds. Lauren's conversation with her jealous husband in Spanish is one of her standout moments as are her confused looks at Camille's unintelligible warnings to her and the doctor's suggestive leers at her, too. Her crazed and maniacal husband, Don Carlos is played by Ben Gracia He commands his scenes with his strong line delivery and obtains gales of laughter at his erratic behavior and firing of his pistol several times. When he calls Chandebise, Chandebitch is hilarious. Another client at the Inn is Dr. Finache (usually played by a man) played excellently by Trish McManus. Her character is hot to trot with both men and women, she has many humorous one liners including "Where there's a willy there's a way" when Victor tells her of his problem in the bedroom and is hilarious when she appears in her underwear and a riding crop in the hotel scene. The doctor is very condescending as she describes things in her medical jargon. Funny moments include when she shows off Camille's silver palate, hypnotize's Poche and Etienne and leers at Lucienne and Raymonde suggestively. Trish steals many a scene in this show.

Jay Miscia is very funny in this show as Camille. He has the most difficult role as a person with a speech impediment, he can't pronounce his vowels and has to at the same time make his dialogue clear to the audience. While playing up the humor of other cast members not being able to understand him, makes the transition from talking with the impediment to speaking clearly a standout scene in this show. He is a hoot as he quakes and quails behind the door and runs screaming through the whorehouse about the Spaniard with the pistols. The lusty maid, Antoinette who is secretly having an affair with Camille is played by Krysten Oates while her jealous husband, Etienne is played by John Joseph Gomes. They bring a great deal of energy to these roles, making their time on stage memorable to the audience. John's funniest line is "You got wood" to Victor. The Frisky Puss characters are hysterical from the first moment you see them onstage. Dennis Bouchard plays Ferrailon, the military owner who runs the place like a battleship. He barks orders to his workers and bosses everyone around. When Pouche dawdles or doesn't pay attention to him, he boots him in the ass. It is hilarious in the last act when he keeps booting Victor in the butt. Angie Margiotta plays his busty, long suffering wife, Olympia who screams and faints while Brettny Nicole plays Eugenie, the maid. Ferrailon's uncle Baptiste, an old man who is on a revolving bed to act as a decoy for lovers who get caught in the act is played by Ron Mutton who screams his bones ache because of rheumatism while Richard Nardella plays Rugby, an insane Englishman who want to have sex with every woman he sees and he beats Etienne, Tourval and Victor up. So for a wonderfully funny farce, be sure to catch "A Flea in Her Ear" at Players. Be sure to call Lydia to join this theatre club.

"A Flea in Her Ear" (29 January - 6 February)
THE PLAYERS
@ Barker Playhouse, 400 Benefit Street, PROVIDENCE RI
1(401)273-0590

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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