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CSC’s “A Flea in Her Ear” is a Frisky, Frantic Farce

Review by Jenifer Moore of “A Flea in Her Ear”: Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

Ever been to a theatrical performance where you are in a fit of hysterical laughter from beginning to end? If, not, then get ready to laugh your heart out with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s latest production “A Flea in Her Ear”. 

This new version of Georges Feydeau’s farce by David Ives closes out the company’s 25th Anniversary season and as the old saying goes, they truly saved the best for last.

Prepare your hearts, minds, and bladders to spend an evening in Paris, France at the turn of the century where shenanigans abound at The Frisky Puss, the city’s notorious hotel for clandestine escapades. We land here after the noble and refined beauty Raymonde Chandebise, believing that her husband (Victor Chandebise/Poche) is unfaithful because of the lack of love given below, cooks up a plan with her partner in crime (Lucienne Homenides de Histangua) to catch him in the act. While the plan is all too common in the world of love and war, what the two don’t bank on is their plan going horribly, yet hilariously off the track. 

I honestly do not know how the cast got through rehearsals without doubling over in fits of laughter themselves while preparing for the play. Each of the cast members brought the comedic and dramatic theatrics over the course of the 147-minute production however Sara Clark and Kelly Mengelkoch ruled the stage. The two reminded me of the famed comedy duo Lucy and Ethel from “I Love Lucy” as Lucienne and Raymonde. Whether they were in a scene together or separately, they led the cast with gusto as they trip over themselves to uncomplicate a situation that they complicated in the first place. Having these two at the helm of this production is the perfect teaser for things to come next year with women-led productions in the “The Season of the Woman” in homage of the 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage. 

What’s a play centered around suspected infidelity and sex-crazed mania without a set to match? Will Turbyne’s work to transform the company’s singular stage into two very distinctive representations during this era took skill and he handled it masterfully. It’s a tale of two cities with Turbyne first bringing the luxury and wealth of the Victorian Era in the Chandebise Drawing Room with cream furniture and high vaulted walls and of course, lots of doors. Next come the sex and unmentionables at The Frisky Puss hotel where the design lives up to its name featuring deep magenta walls, sultry accessories and another very distinctive element that shall remain nameless but becomes a character of its own. The way in which Will and his team are able to interchange the sets through brief intermissions is something to behold and makes Cincinnati Shakespeare Company stand out among the best of the best. 

Finally, no production is a successful one without a leader. Director Jeremy Durbin should be applauded for his relentless pursuit to nail the farce genre with this production. With every hit, kick or slam of a door coupled with the actors exaggerated expressions, he opens the stage doors (pun intended) for audience members to enter in another realm and lose themselves in a fantasy. 

Run, don’t walk to the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s box office to get a ticket (or five!) to see “A Flea in Her Ear”. Audience members will find themselves whipping their heads back and forth in delight to keep up with the fast-paced action. 

The show runs until run until June 2, 2019, and tickets can be purchased online, by calling the Box Office at (513) 381-2273 ext. 1. They can also be purchased in person seven days a week noon – 5 pm at The Otto M. Buddig Theater 1195 Elm Street Cincinnati, OH 45202.