Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires
It also helps that the production is so good looking, with a beautiful and lavish set designed by Kristen Robinson, and opulent costumes courtesy of Sara Jean Tosetti, with everything expertly lit by Matthew Richards. If there are any problems with the show, they have more to do with length: A Flea in Her Ear is staged in three acts, with two intermissions. Even so, Mark Lamos has kept the play so animated throughout that the slight feeling of over-length quickly subsides in all the madcap fun happening onstage. For fans of farce, A Flea in Her Ear at Westport Country Playhouse may be just the thing for an amusing evening out.
A Flea in Her Ear takes place in Paris in 1900. Within the opening moments, the audience is introduced to Raymonde Chandebise (ideally played by Elizabeth Heflin), who sets the play in motion when she confides to her friend Lucienne (the equally good Antoinette Robinson) that she fears that her husband is cheating on her. Through an elaborately constructed love letter, composed by both women, Raymonde Chandebise attempts to trap her husband in the assumed affair. Needless to say, considering that A Flea in Her Ear is a farce, and one of a very high standard, nothing turns out exactly as it should, with the letter actually fueling unforeseen complications.
A great deal of the entertainment involves things going horribly awry and I would hate to reveal any of the many surprises in the show. That being said, the large company of performers in this production all deserve credit for keeping the farce antic and enjoyable throughout the three acts.
In addition to the aforementioned Elizabeth Heflin and Antoinette Robinson, A Flea in Her Ear features a game cast who are fully up to the demands of the show's slightly lunatic story. As Heflin's husband Victor, Lee E. Ernst is just wonderful, nicely feeding into the action, with more than a few unexpected moments up his sleeve. As his friend Tournel, Stephen Pelinski is utterly charming, with Carine Montbertrand and David Beach also shining as the maid and the butler, respectively, at the home of Victor and Raymonde Chandebise.
Mixing up the plot even further is the fact that the second act is set at a completely different location, namely the rather seedy Frisky Puss Hotel. The various situations at this hotel serve to boost A Flea in Her Ear up another few notches in terms of sheer craziness. As the proprietor of the hotel, John Rensenhouse is just perfect, with rather saucy good turns provided by Deena Burke as Olympia, and Laura Frye as Eugenie. Also making appearances are Robert Adelman Hancock, as Rugby, who is staying in one of the rooms, and, even funnier, Wynn Harmon, as the ancient gentleman Baptiste, who keeps popping up when you least expect him.
If that isn't enough, Mic Matarrese is downright hilarious as Camille, and his way of speaking is nearly impossible to understand. And then there is the completely crazed and possibly murderous Don Carlos, husband of Lucienne, delightfully played by Michael Gotch. Not to be forgotten is the grand Hassan El-Amin as Dr. Finache, who is perhaps the sanest character onstage.
Indeed, this entire production of A Flea in Her Ear is staged with an eye on the funny bone, and David Ives' adaptation of Georges Feydeau's farce is everything one could ask for. With director Mark Lamos keeping the pacing of the show swift and full of madness, it consistently enjoyable and, crucially, holds one's attention right to the very end.
A Flea in Her Ear, through July 28, 2018, at Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Ct., Westport CT. For tickets, please visit www.westportplayhouse.org or call the box office at 203-227-4177.