Monomoy Squeezes 'Flea In Her Ear' For Every Last Laugh
By: Joan Aucoin
Gavin McNicholl elevates the hilarity to Monomoy Theater's presentation of Georges Feydeau's 1907 French farce "A Flea in Her Ear" in his duel comedic roles of Parisian aristocrat Victor Chandebise and the sad-sack look-a-like bell boy Poche at the Frisky Puss Hotel.
Adapted by David Ives for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater in 2006, the University of Hartford Players, with local guest stars Bernard Cornwell and Scott Hamilton, take the audience on a delirious discourse concerning marital fidelity, sexual performance, and a battle of the sexes. Ryan Houlihan's direction demands extraordinary
physical comedy and timing from the entire cast of wonderfully, wacky, rattlebrained actors and crew. Even Braden Hooter's extraordinary and complex revolving-bed, multi-tiered set with numerous doors performs on cue for the actor's surprising entrances.
Laura Axelrod continues to amaze in her blonde bombshell performances this season. Playing Raymonde Chandebise, who gets a “flea in her ear” when she suspects her husband Victor of having an affair, she enlists the assistance of her BFF and convent school alumna, Lucienne Homenides de Histangua, to entrap her husband in his cheating ways when one fateful day he failed to perform as a husband. Arlene Bozich returns for her third season as the stunning lady in red, Lucienne. Reluctant at first, Lucienne agrees to pen a note enticing Victor to the local brothel where "all the guests are married, but not to one another."
Dr. Finache is the veritable, level-headed family doctor whose wisdom cures all, except in a French farce replete with mistaken identities, underlying assumptions, and unintended consequences. Bernard Cornwell's Good Doctor-performance with calming nature appears throughout the three-act, two-intermission show in several key
scenes. Dr. Finache examines the deflated Victor, not quite "up to the job" in a knock, knock, knock double entendre word play examination. Dr. Finache urges Victor's cousin Camille, the unsullied stutterer, to gain self-confidence with a silver palette and romp at the Frisky Puss Hotel. Wolfe Lanier is very funny playing the not politically correct, hard to understand character Camille.
John Noble Barrack will keep you in stitches, perhaps literally, as the jealous, pistol-packing flamboyant Spaniard Don Carlos Homenides de Histuangua who would "kill his wife like a dog" if he ever found proof of her unfaithfulness. Lucienne is his wife, Raymonde's BFF, whose handwriting leads to more misunderstandings when Victor opens the love letter while Don Carlos is in his presence. Don Carlos takes aim many times during the show. You know where this is going.
Act two leads the entire cast to the Frisky Puss Hotel where Scott Hamilton makes repeated playful entrances in booming voice playing the soulful British gentleman Rugby asking the hotel manager if anybody's called for him. Up and down the aisles, it's every man and woman for him-herself while true happiness centers on the revolving bed and room five.
Nicholas Dana Reynolds becomes the tall distinguished French attorney Tournel who begs Raymonde to be his mistress. Daniel Owens is Ferraillon who commands the hotel desk with charming wife Olympia, the lovely Martha Berthelsen. Scott Burrows is a hoot as Baptiste the old man trying to get some rest. Gregory Rodriguez is outstanding as Etienne the valet appearing from beginning to end. Kelsey Cox and Olivia Fenton keep the action
flowing and the set spot clean with smiling observances in supporting roles as maids Eugenie and Antoinette.
Alison Pugh's layered silk, satin, and taffeta period costuming continues to add elegance in every minute detail to collars, sashes, hats, gloves, shoes, gowns. The guys were well appointed in men's formal suiting for the upper crust and silly outfits for the lower class.
Act three concludes at the Chandebise residence answering the evening's riddle of farcical nonsense. Her McNicholl excels as he plays two characters at opposites ends of the mistaken identity spectrum. As his agitation grows, so do the laughs.
Take a night at the theater to laugh out loud. Don't take the flea in your ear too seriously. There's no farce like a French farce!
“A Flea In Her Ear”
At Monomoy Theatre
Through July 22
Information and reservations: 508-945-1589