It was a last-minute decision to go and see Georges Feydeau’s classic farce A Flea In Her Ear, but it’s one I’m certainly glad I made. This hilarious and irreverent production happens to be one of the funniest things I’ve seen all year.
The play, set in Paris, sees Madame Raymonde Chandebise concerned that her husband Victor is having an affair. With her friend Lucienne, she concocts a plan to trick her husband into meeting what he thinks is another woman at a local hotel, in order to catch him out. However, what with one thing and another this apparently simple plot becomes more and more complicated, involving Victor’s nephew Camille, Lucienne’s husband Don Carlos, a random Brit, a fearsome hotel proprietor and a bellboy who looks suspiciously like Victor. Mistaken identity and other various shenanigans ensue: will Raymonde and her husband ever reconcile?
A small cast of six play every single role in this fast-paced farce; sometimes different actors even play the same character. This isn’t confusing, though, as costume and other mannerisms make it very clear who each character is supposed to be. This is particularly amusing with the character of Don Carlos, whose every appearance is marked by a burst of stereotypically “Spanish” music, and the Brit in the hotel, who sports a pair of Union flag boxer shorts. The set is a bit wobbly, but this only adds to the charm, and the occasional prop malfunctions only contribute to the general hilarity.
I was impressed that the play was written in 1907, as it often seemed rather risqué for the period – I suppose it is French: I can’t imagine a British play of the same period being equally explicit.
Sacha Bush’s adaptation of this classic play is fast, furious and fun and I had a brilliant time watching it. If you like a good farce, this is one production not to miss.