Theatre Mirror Review>"A Flea in Her Ear"

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entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"A Flea in Her Ear"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Trinity Repertory Company's current show is a new version of George Feydeau's "A Flea in Her Ear" translated by Trinity artistic director Curt Columbus. This play is considered to be one of the greatest French farce's ever written. Madame Raymonde Chandebise becomes obsessed with the notion that her placid, successful insurance executive husband, Victor's lack of interest in sex with her, means he is having an affair with another woman. To see if her suspicions are correct, she has her best friend, Lucienne, write an anonymous letter proposing a rendezvous at the disreputable Naughty Pussy Hotel. Victor thinks the letter is for his coworker, gigolo Tournel and 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 maid, Antoinette also hurry to the same hotel. They are followed by her jealous husband, Etienne, the Chandebise's valet while the doctor also decides to go there for an afternoon assignation. In the meantime, Lucienne's jealous Spanish husband, Carlos shows up with pistols threatening to kill anyone interested in his wife and Camille due to his speech impediment is unable to warn anyone. A drunken bell boy, Pocket is an exact duplicate of Victor and Raymonde thinking it is him, keeps trying to escape the hotel with Tournel who incessantly tries to seduce her. A revolving bed keeps flinging them from room to room with the hotel manager's ancient aunt, Baptistine in the bed. All the people that went to the hotel return to the Chandebise's home utterly confused at what happened there with hotel manager, Ferrallion and Pocket putting in appearances. However since this is a farce all things eventually work out and Raymonde's flea in her ear finally disappears. Director Tyler Dobrowsky casts 14 terrific performers in these madcap roles and obtains magnificent results at their acting prowess of keeping the audience in stitches from start to finish. Bravo on a job extremely well done, making this the must see show of this spring season.

Tyler directs the show splendidly, infusing this farce with a fast pace, clever shtick, frantic movements and gestures.Opening the show with music as characters run around before the actual show begins. From the door slamming to the innuendos and mistaken identity, his cast executes them perfectly. Tyler is aided in his task by the gorgeous Chandebise home and hotel set by Patrick Lynch and the colorful multitude of costumes by Olivera Gajic. Leading this cast is Fred Sullivan Jr. who plays the dual roles of Victor Emmanuel and the hotel porter,Pocket. He displays his range as an actor going from wealthy husband to buffoonish oaf with ease. The audience always knows which character he is portraying. Fred knows how to work the crowd obtaining gales of laughter from them. Some of his funniest moments include being booted in the behind, his kissing of Raymonde and Tournel as Pocket, his interactions with the others as both Victor and Pocket, calling Raymonde a pain in the ass and changing characters on a dime, running around the stage like a whirling dervish. Phyllis Kaye, a sultry brunette plays Raymonde. She makes the exposition of the show fly by with her expert line delivery and fantastic facial expressions. It displays the jealous streak in her. This is shown when she describes her husband's lack of making love to her after having been a marvel in the bedchamber. The hilarious scenes with Tournal in the whorehouse are outstanding and Phyllis' comic behavior adds to the merriment of the show. Mauro Hantman displays the egotistical behavior for Tournel. His conceited and arrogant posturing as well as his proclamations that he can woo any woman is excellent. Mauro wins many laughs as this playboy. His funniest moments include kissing Raymonde's hand, hiding under the covers of the bed in the whorehouse, finding himself getting into bed with Baptistine and when Don Carlos threatens him.

  Gorgeous brunette Angela Brazil shines as Lucienne who plots and plans with Raymonde to make Victor pay for his suspected behavior. Her flamenco steps as the character are hilarious as are her exuberant line delivery and frightened behavior at the Naughty Pussy. Her reactions to not being able to understand Camille's speech impediment and her conversation with her jealous husband in Spanish are stand out moments. Her reactions when Raymonde and her plans fall apart is priceless, too. Her crazed and jealous husband Don Carlos is well played by Timothy Crowe. He commands the stage as Carlos with his comic Spanish accent, black wig and mustache. Tim obtains much laughter from his erratic behavior and his fractured Spanish accent especially funny is when he calls Victor, Chandebitch. Richard Donelly is a hoot as Dr. Finache who manages to make his analysis of Victor's problem into sexual innuendos. Also funny is when he prescribes ammonia treatment for Victor and Pocket in the last scene. His comic cross dressing style outfit in the whorehouse has to be seen to be believed. Richard usually plays stoic characters so this is a chance for him to portray a wild and crazy character.

One of the biggest scene stealers in a show of many scene stealers is Stephen Thorne as Camille. He has the most difficult role in the show as a person with a speech impediment. He can't pronounce consonants and has to make his dialogue understandable to the audience. Stephen plays up the humor of the others not being able to understand him. His pratfalls and facial expression are terrific and he stops the show when he is able to speak clearly at last. Stephen is a hoot as he quails and quakes behind the door and runs screaming through the whorehouse about the Spaniard with his pistols as well as when he sees the two look alike men in the last scene while wearing a pink robe, flip flops and has a towel on his head. The lusty maid Antoinette, who is secretly having an affair with Camille, is wonderfully played by gorgeous statuesque blonde Alex Woodruff while her jealous husband, Etienne is beautifully played by Peter Martin. They are both second year MFA students in the Brown Trinity Acting Program. They deliver energetic portrayals as these madcap characters.

The Hotel characters are hilarious from the first moment you see them in Act 2. Joe Wilson Jr. and Rachael Warren enter singing "Something Stupid" as the library Chandebise set turns into the hot pink Naughty Pussy Hotel. Joe is a hoot as the hot tempered military hotel owner as he runs roughshod over his wife,Olympia, maid Eugenie and his aunt. He continually kicks Pocket and Victor in the ass. Rachael as Olympia gets tossed and thrown about as the guests enter and exit in a panic while Elise LeBreton as Eugenie, the maid constantly does their bidding of making up the beds. Barbara Meek as Baptistine, Ferrallion's aunt, stops the show with laughter as a decoy for lovers who get caught in the act. She moans and wails about her aches and pains, winning sustained laughter at her wild antics. This is Barbara's 46th season at Trinity. Steve Kidd is dynamic as the insane German, Rugby who wants to make love to every woman he meets. Rugby beats up Victor, Tournel, Camille and Etienne as he lusts after their women. When Camille's silver pallette flies out of his mouth during their fight, it's performed in slow motion to "Chariots of Fire". So for a side splitting farce that will warm your heart with sustained laughter, be sure to catch "A Flea in Her Ear" before time runs out. You will witness direction and acting at its uttermost best with a clever and witty script by Curt Columbus.

"A Flea in Her Ear" (26 March - 26 April)
@ 201 Washington Street. PROVIDENCE RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide