by Terrance Mc Arthur
“French farce.” If you don’t know what that means, you can probably figure it out: naughty people doing naughty things, not-so-naughty people being suspected of doing naughty things, mistaken identities, naughty, and not-so-naughty people running around the stage, and lots of slamming doors. Georges Feydeau wrote A Flea in Her Ear in 1907 (the John Mortimer translation is from the 1960s), and its productions have been slamming doors for over 100 years.
Raymonde (Carly Oliver) is puzzled by her husband Victor (Matthew Schiltz) not being as amorous as usual; she suspects he is having an affair. She has her friend (Kelsey Oliver) write an anonymous note promising to meet Victor at a famous no-questions-asked hotel. Reading the note, Victor is confused and thinks the note is for his randy friend (Joel Young). The wife’s friend’s Spanish husband (Giovanni Navarro) recognizes her handwriting, and rushes to the hotel to catch and shoot her. Victor follows to prevent a murder. Victor’s nephew (Steven Weatherbee) has a speech impediment, now cleared by a silver mouthpiece from the family doctor (Gordon Moore). To celebrate, he goes to the hotel, and so does the doctor, who spends a lot of relaxing time there.
At the hotel, there are rooms on turntables, an amorous German (James Walls-Lopez), a drunken uncle of the owners (Henry Montelongo), and a staff member with attitude problems and a likeness of Victor (Schiltz, again). Toss in servants, maids, cooks, and gunshots, and the possibilities for confusion are staggering. It’s like the Keystone Cops with a French accent and no badges.
Schiltz, who played the Emcee in CSUF’s recent Cabaret, is a slender, angular, and energetic force of nature, dominating the action in both his characters. His wide-eyed befuddlement as he careens from embarrassing situation to mistaken identity keeps things running, and they do run, committing damage and mayhem to David Pierce’s richly envisioned sets.
Carly Oliver is graceful, vivacious, and cunning as the wife trying to trap her actually-faithful husband, wrapped in a stunning costume created by the always-resourceful Ginger Kay Lewis-Reed. Kelsey Oliver is also lovely as a partner-in-plotting. Moore never fails to delight on the GCP stages with his knowing looks and droll delivery. Navarro shouts and shoots as somewhere between Gomez Addams and Peter Lorre.
Director J. Daniel Herring has whipped the crew up to ramming speed, but it never sinks. It’s frothy fun, served in a champagne glass. It’s a French pastry, lighter than air. An early-1900s romp, it would be a giddy giggle, even without the French accents.
A Flea in Her Ear plays through August 16 at the Good Company Players’ 2nd Space Theatre. For more information, call (559) 266-9494 or go to www.gcplayers.com and you can keep up with their shows on KRL’s GCP event page.
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