Comical and full of adrenaline, Georges Feydeau’s farce A Flea in Her Ear is now in repertory at A Noise Within (ANW). This is a new translation by David Ives of the French original, intended for the American audience, and directed at ANW by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott.
In A Flea in Her Ear Victor Chadebise, after a bout of impotence, has been staying away from his wife Raymonde. She, not understanding his behavior, starts suspecting that he is cheating. Raymonde asks her best friend Lucienne to write a letter, supposedly from a mysterious woman, luring Victor into a nearby hotel. Intrigued, he sends a guy friend in his place, and that starts a series of misunderstandings that hilariously end up teaching them all a good lesson.
At ANW the performers are funny, quick, and precise. This is perhaps the funniest play ever presented by the company, and Rafael Goldstein, as Camille, has much to do with it. As Victor’s nephew, Camille has a cleft palate that makes him unable to pronounce consonants, and therefore, he causes many miscommunications. His speech, however, becomes clearer when it is convenient, giving the audience plenty of reasons to laugh. Victor, played by Geoff Elliott, is also a source of much entertainment, as he is frequently mistaken for Poche, the drunken doorman of the hotel.
Don Carlos Homenides de Histangua (Luis Fernandez-Gil) is Lucienne’s husband, an over the top man who speaks either in Spanish or in very broken English. He embodies the forever stereotype of a Latin man – very jealous, plenty loud, and quite handsome, with grand gestures and, of course, a gun. Fernandez-Gil is a great addition to this production, which stands out at ANW because of the Spanish dialogue in the mix that also forces veteran actress Jill Hill (Lucienne) to show us an additional talent. Hill had performed this part 11 years ago, she explained, but the fresh translation brought along new lines that she had to re-learn. While Fernandez-Gil is a native Spanish speaker, Hill has a strong English accent, and although the delivery of her Spanish lines is not always perfectly clear, the chemistry between the two doesn’t miss a beat and their interaction is greatly enjoyed by the audience.
Doors open and close and people come in and out of the stage with perfect timing in the two gorgeous and elaborate sets that are switched back and forth during the show’s two intermissions. The original play was set by the author in 1907, but at ANW the action is set in the 1950s, the last decade, says the director, in which such idle housewives with tons of time to plot schemes could be believable. The result is a play that promptly brings to mind an episode of “I Love Lucy.”
If you want theater to transport you away from your daily life routine and make you laugh out loud, this is your play. It is longer than usual (about two and a half hours) but the time goes by quickly because the story grabs you. The dialogue is in modern English, with sparkles of Spanish here and there. You will be thoroughly entertained.
A Flea in Her Ear has several performances until November 22. Check ANoiseWithin.org for tickets and specific dates. A Noise Within is located on the corner of Foothill Blvd. and Sierra Madre Villa Ave. at 3352 East Foothill Blvd., in Pasadena 91107.
Jill Hill (Lucienne Homenides de Histangua) and Elyse Mirto (Raymonde Chandebise). Photo by Craig Schwartz.