One thing about farce, French or not, it allows some potentially serious intimate (and often sexual) topics and situations to get on stage and not outrage its audience. Take Georges Feydeau’s “A Flea in Her Ear,” a turn-of-the-last-century comedy that is being performed in the Sandefur Theatre at The University of Akron this month.
Set in Paris at the start of the 20th century, Raymonde Chandel (called Yvonne in this production), starts to wonder about her husband, Victor Emmanuel.
Victor has become suddenly sexually inactive after years of wedded bliss. The problem, it turns out, isn’t infidelity as Yvonne thinks, but a peculiar nervous condition (ah, the French!).
The wife sets about to catch the husband by creating a ruse to catch him cheating. She and friend Lucienne concoct an open invitation to a semi-bordello and send it to Victor. He could care less, and passes it to his best friend, Tournel, who, as best friends in French farce and sometimes in real life do, knows what’s going on but is interested in going, since he fancies his best friend’s wife (Yvonne) for himself.
I guess that sums it up for trusting relationships (in marriage and in friendship) in the Belle Epoque world of Paris in the day. From this moment, the whole point of the comedy is to add to the merry mix-up for laughs as the main characters – and several stock ones – create their own un-trusty ways and cavort through the less-than-reputable trysting place.
Suspicions and jealousies arise; accusations are made; and you have to see the play to know the ending. In the meantime, the laughter will surely abound.
“A Flea in Her Ear” is being directed by UA professor and actress Aubrey Caldwell. Caldwell has performed locally for Actors’ Summit, a Knight Arts grantee, and the only professional theater in the area. She also has appeared in independent films, a genre that is catching on in the film world. She previously staged William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” for The University of Akron.
Georges Feydeau’s “A Flea in Her Ear” will be performed at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday through March 9 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 3 at the Sandefur Theatre, The University of Akron, 139 Buchtel Ave., Akron; 330-972-7895; www.uaevents.com. Tickets are $12 ($10 for seniors and UA employees, $6 for students).