MainStage Irving-Las Colinas
Directed by Andi Allen
Scene Design – Jeffrey S. Franks
Lighting Design – Sam Nance
Costume Design – Michael Robinson, Dallas Costume Shoppe
Properties – JoAnne Hull
Sound Design – Andi Allen
Scott Bardin—Victor Chandebise/Poche
Lindsay Hayward – Raymonde Chandebise
Peter DiCesare – Camille Chandebise
Stephanie Seidler – Lucienne Homenides de HIstangua
Nathan Amir – Don Carolos Homenides de HIstangua
R Bradford Smith – Dr Finache
Robert Shores – Romain Tournel
Caitlin Mills Duree – Antoinette
Darret Hart – Etienne
Kevin Michael Fuld – Ferraillon
Maggie Smith – Olympia
Jill Lightfoot – Eugenie
David Birge – Baptiste
Jordan Pokladnik -- Rugby
Reviewed Performance 3/20/2015
Reviewed by Angela Newby, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Mainstage Irving-Las Colinas brings to the stage A Flea in Her Ear and outdoes itself! Through the comical farce, the audience joins a group of friends in Paris in1900 to see if spouses are cheating on one another or not. Director Andi Allan states it perfectly, “In fact, for a show that is thought to be about sex, the only one who actually gets lucky during this show is the audience.” And lucky is exactly what the audience was!
A Flea in Her Ear, originally in French, is a 1907 play by Georges Feydeau at the height of the Belle Epoque. John Mortimer translated the play for the National Theatre in 1966, playing at the Old Vic. Since then, this play has been performed across the United States and around the world.
Allen has did a remarkable job with this cast and crew, and the dedication to detail was fantastic! Allen also took on sound design, which while straightforward, kept the attention on the cast and script.
Lighting design by Sam Nance was simplified with full lights on stage throughout. The end of each act was concluded with a slow fade to black. Dimmed lights onstage were perfect to indicate an addition to the script while the set was being changed.
Michael Robinson did a fantastic job with the design of the costumes. 1900 Parisian faire was well thought out, each actor dressed to support the personality of the character. This was especially true for Victor/Poche. Victor, the executive of an insurance form, wore a formal tuxedo to show his power and wealth. Poche, the bellman of the hotel, was also in his suit, his cap and coat adding professionalism to this level of society. Each of the male characters wore three-piece suits or tuxes. The ladies were draped in time-specific dresses of dark damask material that screamed their wealth. The butler and maid were professionally uniformed in lesser finery.
Scenic Design by Jeffrey S. Franks was spectacular. Both the drawing room in the Chandebise’s house and the Frisky PussHotel were massive and overtook the stage in a way that demanded careful attention. The drawing room walls boasted a beautiful blue color that accented the solid wood desk, and the ivory, short-winged back chairs. The Frisky Puss Hotel, on the other hand, was done up in colors of purple and pink which added to the personality of this special hotel. The one hotel room visible was full of royal purple bedding with a few pillows, but it was the moving wall that made all the difference in the design. Franks did an outstanding job bringing the cast the perfect stage!
Scott Bardin did a superb job as Victor Chandebise and Poche. As Victor, Bardin played prim and proper, with a calm demeanor that slowly built as the play progressed. Here Bardin used clenched fist and furrowed brow, constantly red-faced. His inflection was perfect. As Poche, Bardin moved at a slower pace wtih hunched shoulders and slurred speech. He deftly separated the two characters throughout the fast pace of the third act, never missing a beat between the two.
Raymonde Chandebise, Victor’s wife, portrayed by Lindsay Hayward, was the quintessential paranoid wife. Hayward’s shrill voice added to the frantic pace that Raymonde displays within the play. Hayward snapped into angry and frustrated on a turn of a dime with pursed lips, inflection of tone, and stomping feet. Raymonde is by nature overdramatic, and Hayward exhibited this perfectly throughout the play.
Peter DiCesare portrayed Camille Chandebise, the nephew of Victor and Raymonde. I heard more laughter from the audience when DiCesare was on stage as he nailed the character of Camille, from his speech impediment to his facial expressions of exasperation. His rolling eyes, furtive glances, and amazing vocal inflection, DiCesare physically and emotionally showed the complexity of Camille.
Stephanie Seidler, as Lucienne Homenides de HIstangua, was made to play this character. Her perfect posture and lilting voice indicated Lucienne’s prim and proper ways. Even amongst the play’s chaos, Seidler handled her hasty movements with grace. Yet it was her facial expressions that really showed the emotion of the script. From gaping mouth to her slight smiles, each expression only enhanced her character within the play.
Nathan Amir played Don Carolos Homenides de HIstangua as the outraged husband. His energy when yelling to the point of becoming red-faced, all while using a heavy thick Spanish accent, was incredible. His moments of being perfectly still and calm was even more eerie, as his character waited for what would come next, adding more suspense.
R. Bradford Smith as Dr. Finache was compassionate to the needs of his patients. Smith did have some trouble with lines but was able to recover. His firm stance and rigid back helped show the doctor’s air of authority, yet it was Smith’s hypnotic voice that also showed Dr. Finache’s good bedside manner.
Robert Shores played Romain Tournel, a coworker of Victor’s, and part of a potential love triangle within the play. Shores’ ability to contort his face humorously showed the gamut of emotion Tournel experienced. The character was enriched through Shores’ rapid movements and range of vocal inflection from baritone to soprano.
Caitlin Mills Duree as Antoinette and Etienne as Darret Hart were the two housekeepers for the Chandebise household. Antoinette’s bubbly personality shined through Duree’s gleaning eyes and sashaying movements. When in the chaotic throwsof the script, her nervous looks and wide eyes boosted the script. Hart played butler Etienne who was the epitome of professionalism and loyalty to his job. Hart’s perfect posture, hands held behind his back, never beguiled his position. His reddened face, pursed lips and squinted eyes showed the complexity of Etienne’s character.
The owners of The Frisky Puss Hotel, Ferraillon and Olympia, will stop at nothing to protect their hotel’s clandestine guests. Ferraillon, played by Kevin Michael Fuld, was a hoot. His calm demeanor, flawless enunciation and military-style movements reflected his character’s upper class. Fuld’s heavy footsteps amidst the rushed pace in Act Two worked seamlessly with his confident stance. Maggie Smith played Olympia and her facial expressions were hysterical. Through Olympia’s hysterics, the chaos was further enhanced through Smith’s antics, screaming and fainting spell.
The staff of the Frisky Puss Hotel was energetic and had big personalities. Jill Lightfoot as Eugenie was hilarious, her smirks and exasperated looks showed through her character’s huffs, puffs and grimaces. Baptiste, played by David Birge, was the one I kept looking for in Act Two. His facial expressions with a glint in his eye showed the joy that he was having onstage. Jordan Pokladnik was a riot as Rugby. He was lively, with playful grins, and his pointed speech and perfect British accent helped define the playboy character.
The cast is to be credited for bringing this play to life in a performance that had the audience in tears from laughing start to finish. A Flea in Her Ear and is a production that should be on everyone’s must see list this spring!
A FLEA IN HER EAR
MainStage Irving-Las Colinas
Dupree Theatre at Irving Arts Center
3333 N. MacArthur Blvd.
Irving, TX 75062
Runs through April 4th
Friday-Saturday at 8:00 pm, and Sunday at 2:30 pm, with an additional performance on Thursday, April 2nd at 8:00 pm
Tickets are $21.00, and $19.00 for seniors 65+ and students (child to college). Tickets for the Thursday performance are $18.00, and $16.00 for seniors and students.
For information and to purchase tickets, go www.irvingtheatre.org or call the box office at 972-252- ARTS (2787).