Entertainment

Theatre review: Flea is place to be

Matt Brown (Romain Tournel), left, Monica Kleyn (Lucienne), Bev Steeves (Raymonde), Kelly Winston (Victor Emmanuel), David Jones (Baptistin), Elaine Barling (Olympe) and Patty Garrett (Eugenie) are part of the large ensemble cast in Georges Feydeau’s farce, A Flea in Her Ear, runs to May 10 and will open the Okanagan Zone Drama Festival at Powerhouse May 11. - Monty Hughes
Matt Brown (Romain Tournel), left, Monica Kleyn (Lucienne), Bev Steeves (Raymonde), Kelly Winston (Victor Emmanuel), David Jones (Baptistin), Elaine Barling (Olympe) and Patty Garrett (Eugenie) are part of the large ensemble cast in Georges Feydeau’s farce, A Flea in Her Ear, runs to May 10 and will open the Okanagan Zone Drama Festival at Powerhouse May 11.
— image credit: Monty Hughes

A cast of thousands, OK, in reality 14, but at times it seems like the energy level of many, many more, brings you the latest offering at Powerhouse Theatre.

The time-tested farce A Flea in Her Ear took to the stage Wednesday and after all was said and done one theatregoer exclaimed, “I’m tired from just watching them, imagine how they must feel,” as she smiled her appreciation of what the cast had just successfully pulled off.

Indeed.

In fact, cast and audience alike shared in the afterglow of a fast-paced, physical affair that explores the funny side of paranoia, distrust, misunderstandings and just generally what happens when you tempt fate and begin to explore the darker side of life.

The pratfalls and one-liners are numerous enough to allow us to enjoy the precarious path these characters travel down to chaos. The fine performances and ensemble nature of the play also feeds the feeling that the crowd is along for the wild ride as well.

It’s ironic that everyone is winded by the end because, on opening  night at least, the play was a bit slow to start and stumbled a little out of the gate with a few fumbled lines and at least one door opening prematurely, or the other one closing too soon, it’s difficult to know, really.

But the actors soon gained their footing and the pace of the play picked up once the “scarlet letter” was unveiled and the heart of the matter unfolds.

The cast shines and the play reveals its appeal as the madness and deception and misunderstandings multiply. The anticipation with the scene change from the drawing room of the upper-class home in Paris to the low-brow hotel after the first act was palpable.

And during the first of two intermissions the set crew magically and wonderfully transformed the stage so the actors could deliver the goods in the second act.

Let’s just say the combination of the set, the pace of the play and the talents of the actors in the second act leads to an exciting, exhausting but wonderfully funny and fulfilling experience for one and all. And it literally ends with a bang, again perfectly setting up the heartwarming and satisfying final act.

It almost seems wrong to single out actors in an ensemble affair such as A Flea in Her Ear – they were all terrific – but Justin Kopy as the befuddled but lovable Camille Chandebise was truly a delight.

The two leads, Bev Steeves and Kelly Winston, take on very challenging roles and deliver the goods, while Clif Heinrichs gets more than his share of laughs as Herr Schwartz.

It’s ironic that the two characters that drew the most guffaws barely uttered an understandable word the entire play, for entirely different reasons, but that’s the beauty of the play.

It should be noted that the costumes are superbly done and help draw the crowd into the period piece for a wonderful trip back in time.

Also, thanks to two intermissions, due to set changes and likely to give the actors a breather, the performance is a bit on the lengthy side, but well worth the investment of time.

So, if you’re looking for a break from your own obsession with life’s troubles, while learning and laughing while observing others’, get down to Powerhouse and join in the fun. You’ll be glad you did.

The play runs nightly today to May 10 at 7:30 p.m. (No shows Sunday or Monday night.) Matineés are Sunday and May 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets are at the Ticket Seller.

Glenn Mitchell is the managing editor of The Morning Star.

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