A Flea in Her Ear

Still riding a good post-class high today.  It’s strange.  But in the span of just the last week or so, I’ve suddenly been able to add both volunteer AND student to my list of things I actually do that aren’t a complete waste of time (they’re the only things on the list, actually).    It’s very weird…I think I might actually feel proud.  Or at least some Bart Simpson-esqe ‘not shame’.  And believe me, that’ll do.

So I headed out, after fretting over which of the remaining shows in town I was actually going to see tonite.   I made my decision, and headed to the Gladstone Theatre, bought myself a subscription to their 3-show mini-season (because that’s how I roll…all or nothing, yo), and reserved my seat for tonite’s performance of SevenThirty Productions’ A FLEA IN HER EAR.  I’d been looking forward to this one for a while now, not least of which because my fellow blogger Tim Oberholzer was in the show.  SevenThirty’s got a long list of credits in this town, mostly on Irish plays, and the only work of theirs I’d seen previously was the excellent SHINING CITY.

Hit the Gladstone, had a Corona and wondered yet fucking again where I know that girl behind the bar from (did I just ask her?  No no, instead I talked with the coat check girl, who thought I was a total creep.  It was kinda funny).  Had a good seat in the second row, nice view of a lovely set, and waited for the show to begin.

The play, originally UN PUCE A L’OREILLE (translated for this production by the multitalented David Whitely) is by one George Feydeau, a French satirist from the turn of the last century who knew a thing or two about farce, in the same way that Edison knew a thing or two about lightbulbs, and electrocuting elephants… he practically invented it.  All I really knew about farce was that a lot of door-slamming was supposedly involved.  I noted a whole lotta doors in the set…this boded well.

The crucial element to any good farce.

The action got off to a steady start, with a quick introduction to more than half a dozen characters, including several well-to-do ladies (Robin Guy and Michelle LeBlanc lighting them up some stage), smooth Tim Oberholzer as Etienne the valet, Laurie Payton as his wandering wife, Nathan Ings in a tricky comic turn as a nephew who can only speak in vowels, aforementioned Dave Whitely as a smarmy lothario, and friend to Chris Ralph’s Victor-Emmanuel Chandebise, the suffering lord of the manor.  Oh, and the great Tom Charlebois as a smirking Doctor, Brian Stewart doing some masterful scene stealing as the jealous Carlos Homenides…that’s about the first 5 minutes.

This is a longish one, running nearly three hours counting two 20 minute intermissions for set changes.  fine by me…although, sadly, my Apache blood-brother Denis Armstrong didn’t share my enthusiasm for the twintermissions.  ‘Embarrassingly long’, says he.  Which brings me to a short aside, and what may end up being a regular feature here at the Visitorium (if he keeps opening his big mouth, that is), which I call DEAR DENIS.

DEAR DENIS: It’s only 20 minutes, there’s cheap beer and pretty girls in the lobby.  Have a Corona and SHUT the FUCK UP.  Thanks.

…sorry, where was I?  Oh yes, intermissions.  FLEA forms kind of an intriguing Farce-sandwich, with the first and third acts taking place at the Chandebise residence, and a spectacular middle scene at the gloriously named Chateau des Chasseurs de Phoque.  I’m starting to agree with the people calling Feydeau a genius.  Several new characters are introduced in the Chateau scene, with great performances by the likes of Bronwyn Steinberg, Matt Minter, Kel Parsons, Jerome Bourgault and Patrick MacFadden, as well as all the gang from scene one.  Innuendos fly, punches are thrown, identities are confused, accents are mangled and, yes, doors are slammed with alarming regularity.  It gets pretty delirious and madcap, and I loved it to bits.  So much so that, while awaiting the final act, a patron across the aisle from me caught my expression, leaned over and said with a laugh, ‘You’re grinning with anticipation’.  And god dammit, I sure was.  You’ll be too.

Kudos to John P.Kelly for pulling off such a massive work with this terrific cast, pretty much to die for.   I had a grand time, and I always like those.  And I’m keeping an eye out for Whiteley and Parsons’ next project in February, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST at their new prod. company PLOSIVE, with Teri Loretto.  Best of luck!  And SevenThirty, by all means…keep on farcing.  Chassing some Phoque,

the Visitor

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