Audiences howl with laughter on the opening night of ‘A Flea in Her Ear’
Courtesy of Mike Davis
The sounds of the can-can blared over the speakers as 17 actors danced round the stage wildly in turn-of-the-century garb. Legs were flying from underneath hoisted skirts as the audience cheered wildly and clapped along at lightning speed.
Lights came up and the crowd eventually settled down. End of act two.
“A Flea in Her Ear,” opened to an enthusiastic audience Saturday at the Syracuse Stage/SU Drama Complex.
The farcical comedy by French playwright Georges Fedeau tells the story of a woman who believes her husband is being unfaithful and creates an elaborate scheme to reveal the truth. A mistake in identity leads to a hilarious mix up as the characters fumble about trying to understand what is really happening.
Alexander Griffin, a junior acting major, was in the thick of the confusion as he played two roles, the part of Victor Chandebise, a rich executive, and Posh, a bellboy at the Frisky Puss Hotel.
“It was hard but we had a while to rehearse it,” Griffin said. “You have to think of ‘what is this character and what is this character,’ There are two different sides to the same coin.”
The SU Drama production has been rehearsing for two months, which Griffin said is longer than usual.
Catherine Giddings, a junior acting major, played the role of Camille Chandebise. She said the first few weeks of rehearsal were set learning how to move around the stage and how to tumble.
The highly physical show incorporated cartwheels, forwards roles and leaping over furniture into every scene. At one point, an actor was flipped upside down by one of his cast mates before collapsing into a forwards roll.
Cheers and applause from the audience followed every move. The scenes were so fast-paced with actors firing quips back and forward at lightning speed, so fast that the laughter seemed to never stop erupting from the nearly sold out audience.
Lines such as “Where there’s a willy, there’s a way,” and other innuendo had everyone in stitches but the actors never broke, moving seamlessly between a range of emotions.
The set was very large and elaborate, with a hidden room behind a scrim and a rotating drum in the middle allowing for quick scene changes.
Actors broke out in sweat as they moved rapidly behind the set, disappearing from one side of the stage before appearing on the other, moments later. They slid down the bannister and even launched themselves out of the upstairs window to roars from the audience.
One character that had the audience in tears from laughter was Giddings’ character, Camille Chandebise. The role detailed a young man with a speech impediment who was only able to pronounce vowels, no consonants.
Audience members seemed unsure as to whether they should be laughing, or trying to understand the sounds that accompanied Giddings’ larger than life body language.
Giddings said that the cast has all gotten used to each others comedic onstage actions so the audience reaction took her by surprise. She added, however, that the cheers and shouts were empowering.
Giovanni Dasilva, a junior acting major, was in the audience supporting his friends and colleagues. He said the show was incredible as the type of farce shown is one rarely seen in the Department of Drama.
“We touch on this kind of material in our school, in our practice, in our education, but we never get to see it put to practice in a show,” Dasilva said. “It was so different to anything we have done before, at least since I have been here.”
Published on May 8, 2016 at 9:27 am
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