Texas Repertory Theatre's FLEA IN HER EAR
Column: The Naked Critic
is Well-Timed, Well-Tuned, Well-Full-of-Laughs Comic Dream Machine
I had never seen Georges Feydeau's hilarious French farce, A Flea in her Ear, until last weekend's opening at Texas Repertory Theatre.
Don't ask me how I missed it---it was written in 1907 and just about every theatre in the world has done it at least once!
Texas Rep's Artistic Director Craig A. Miller has created a charming and memorable new adaptation of the classic farce and set it in the early 1920s in New York City, the melting pot of the world, instead of in Paris in the early 1900s.
I have never witnessed such a complex piece of comedy, where every word and action needs to be perfectly timed with what has just occurred and what is about to occur.
Without exquisitely perfected timing, which requires very talented actors and an immense and tedious rehearsal period, A Flea in Her Ear would fall flat.
You know and I know that comedy, particularly, farce, and its madcap and stylized business is the most difficult type of theatre to stage successfully.
Fortunately for Texas Repertory Theatre, the play works exactly and precisely like it should, as if it were being seen at the famous Parisian theatre behind the Louvre, the Comédie-Française. Bravo!
(L-R) Mark McCarver as Roman Tournel,
Steven Fenley as Dr. Panache, Glenn Spencer as Victor Chandablee, Sam Martinez as Carlos De Histangua, Lauren Dolk as Rochelle Chandablee,
and Jen Lucy as Lucille De Histangua
Miller has cast magnificent actors in every role and directs Feydeau's stylized comic masterpiece with plenty of panache and an amazing amount of detail and precision.
Lauren Dolk does not miss one beat and is absolutely fabulous as Rochelle Chandablee, who gets a "flea in her ear" that her husband, Victor, is cheating on her simply because he cannot get it up, thereby creating the raison d'être of the entire farce.
So we are off and running through our sexual-charged farce!
Glenn Spencer is hilarious as Victor, who suspects a setup and follows his wife to Hotel Pussycat where all hell breaks loose and the comedy of errors begins when we discover that the hotel valet named Botch looks exactly like Victor.
Spencer is equally hilarious as Botch.
The timing is so fast at times that we could swear that it is Spencer's twin playing the role of Botch.
Travis Blount displays his genius as a comic as Victor's nephew, Carmine, who has a speech impediment but can speak normally when he inserts into his mouth a silver palette made by the family doctor, Dr. Panache.
Blount makes his Texas Rep debut fresh from playing one of the leads in Unhinged Productions' very successful run of Mark Rudnick's The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told.
Steven Fenley, one of Houston's most brilliant character actors (he also serves as Associate Artistic Director of Texas Rep), is properly British and boisterous and broad as Dr. Panache.
Fenley also beautifully choreographs all of the play's funny and involved fight scenes.
Jen Lucy is awesome as Lucille De Histangua and is as great as the late Lucille Ball in every way, including the red hair!
When Lucy and Dolk are onstage together, there are always fireworks exploding.
Sam Martinez, dressed as a matador, is brilliant and hysterical as Lucille's Spanish husband, Carlos De Histangua.
Mark McCarver sports a fabulous French accent as Roman Tournel and is sexy, splendid, and superb.
Aneela Qureshi is excellent and funny as the Chandablee's horny French maid.
David Walker as Edwards, the Chandablee's British valet, is perfect in every way and is boldly expressive.
Alex Dorman is gorgeous, sexy, and saucy as Scelest, the Irish maid at the Hotel Pussycat.
John Carmona as Albicocco, the very, very horny Italian occupant in one of the rented rooms by the hour at the Hotel Pussycat, has great energy, a huge presence, and is absolutely hilarious.
Rounding out the talented cast in smaller but memorable roles are Frederick Pearce as Colonel Ferris, Yissel Carroll as Olympia, and Joe Fullen as Uncle Bappy, who never gets out of a revolving bed.
I am always amazed at the immense creativity and craftsmanship of the scenic design at Texas Repertory Theatre and the wonderful set for A Flea in Her Ear is no exception.
Jesse Dreikosen has created a beautiful parlor for the upper-class Chandablee's elegant home in New York and you won't believe your eyes as it transforms into the sleazy Hotel Pussycat.
Costume design by Tiffani Fuller is stunning in every way, from the beautifully detailed roaring twenties dresses to the dazzling period jewelry and hats to the specialized maid and valet uniforms to the matador's exquisite vest.
Texas Rep's A Flea in Her Ear is a MUST SEE!
The show runs through Sunday, May 23rd.
For more information and/or to purchase tickets, please click on:
Published: 12 May 2010