A Flea in Her Ear Essay
A Flea in Her Ear
‘A Flea In Her Ear’ is a play written by the French playwright Georges Feydeau. It tells the story of Victor Emmanuelle Chandebise, played by Nasri El-Sayeh, chairman of a large insurance company, and his wife Raymonde, played by Stephanie Reed. The play is an excellent farce about misinterpretations, confusion and humour, which captures the audience in style. Georges Feydeau was born in Paris in 1862 and lived until 1921. This play is regarded as his best. It was written in 1907, and was known as ‘Une Puce i?? l’Oreille.
‘ Although his plays were excellent, Feydeau started gambling in 1918 and contracted syphilis, slowly descending into madness, eventually dying and being buried in Paris. I am writing a review, analysing the mediums and elements of drama used in this production. The costumes had been chosen specifically from the National Theatre for this production. They were perfectly suited to the character’s roles and added a touch of eloquence. For example, Stuart Onslow, playing the part of Romain Tournel, a notorious womanizer, is so excellently portrayed from the beginning.
His suit is smart, yet not formal, and he is displayed as a somewhat arrogant fellow. His excellent acting added to this and he played a key role in the play. The female roles were wearing flamboyant, evocative costumes. The audience spontaneously stared when they were first seen, as they were ‘over the top’ and stood out. The choice of music and sound, from technical director Ben Sehovic was superb. ‘A Flea In Her Ear’ is a piece of drama that does not require a lot of music or sound, if any. Yet the small sound effects, added at certain intervals, added a great deal of emphasis to the play.
During the end of Act Two, a short piece of ‘jumpy,’ disjointed music was played. During this short period the cast moved about the stage, encapturing the moment, mimicking a ‘Charlie Chaplin’ sketch. The play was set at the same height as the audience. There was tiered seating, but the stage had not been raised. I personally felt that this was a fantastic idea, as it involved the audience more. To have actors performing in front of your eyes is much more momentous than to be staring up at them on a stage. There were many exits on this set; an archway, four different sets of doors and a flight of stairs.
This was adamant for this farcical play, as the ludicrousness that is acted out is sharp and quick, thus needing many exits and entrances. As one of the actors, or indeed as a member of the audience, you have to be able to imagine that the outside space is real in order to perform or understand the play to the best of your ability. For instance, in Act Two, when in the Hotel Coq d’Or, The stage right exit door is a bathroom, as opposed to Act One, where it is a hallway. We need to believe that, in each scene, the space behind the door is what the actors say it is.
This increases our knowledge of the play, makes the speed and identity tracking slightly less confusing. The set, hired from The Royal National Theatre, was fabulous. I particularly liked the revolving bed in the hotel scene, and the French windows. I felt it added a touch of glamour to the Chadebise’s home. There were not a huge number of props used in this play. However, small things, for instance; Doctor Finache (Nathan Ireland) continuously had a stethoscope around his neck. Without anyone speaking, you could immediately see that he was playing the role of some kind of doctor.
Small details like this, added to the play so well presented, made it something which was extremely enjoyable to watch. The pace of the play was one of the aspects that everyone was amazed by and indulged in. The interactions of the characters were short, quick and snappy. The language used was extremely witty and all parts were spoken well, the accents used adding to the emotional performance. The actors were extremely confident in performing and this shone through. The only major criticism I have of this play is its length.
I appreciate how hard it must’ve been to take anything out, as without one thing you cannot have another. The first two acts went past in a flash, and because there was no interval between the second and third acts, it was hard for many audience members; particularly young children and the elderly to keep focused and listen to each minute detail. The performance as a whole was superb. Nasri’s portrayal of Victor was excellent. His acting was top-notch. He had many quick and difficult costume changes, as well as having to remember when to use his posh voice and when not to.
It was truly magnificent The social, cultural and historical content of the play very much relates to today. The farcical confusion, a mixture of people running in and out of the right and wrong rooms, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time is very much loved by people today. World famous television shows such as ‘Frasier,’ ‘Friends’ and ‘Only Fools and Horses’ are brilliant examples of this. One problem with the speed of the piece was that, not for me but others, it would have been a blunder of bewilderment and perplexity.
The John Lyon School’s production of Feydeau’s ‘A Flea In Her Ear’ was an outstanding performance. It really helped my understanding of the medium of drama. I can relate the movement to my own work, picking up new ideas as well as improving what I currently know. I can see how a few small props can totally enhance a piece of theatre, also seeing that space and levels are entirely needed to show a piece’s full potential. Deborah Gibbs has created a masterful drama performance from a play which is complicated and complex.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 4 July 2017
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