A Flea in Her Ear at Source Theatre

Once again, Source's company-in-residence, Constellation Theatre Company, has hit it out of the park. Their current offering, A Flea in Her Ear, adapted by David Ives from Georges Feydeau's original script, is full of energy and side-splittingly funny. The ensemble of 14 brings to life some of the most over-the-top characters I've seen in a while, and in an incredibly intimate setting to boot.

There can't be more than 100 seats in the whole theatre, with the stage taking up the majority of the already small house. Set designer A.J. Guban (who also did the lights) had two places to work with - the home of Victor Emmanuelle Chandebise and the infamous Frisky Puss Hotel. Both have a complicated network of doors and rooms which are necessary in a farce, as people are always coming, going, and missing each other. Naturally, mistaken identities are abundant, but we'll get to that later. Taking place in Paris in the 1920s, the stage has only a couch and a desk at the top of the show, but somehow manages to seem comfortably furnished. In eye-popping costumes designed by Kendra Rai, actors flutter around the stage like fashionable butterflies.

This company has more than its fair share of incredibly good actors. They manage to make this incredibly complicated plot seem like no more than a day walking through Adams Morgan, admiring the fine weather. The plot: When Raymonde Chandebise (Katie Atkinson)... you know what? I'm not even going to go into it. There's too much happening, too many mistaken identities, and too much hilarity to write down. Let's say there are suspenders, a guy who can't pronounce consonants, a horny Englishman, and a Spaniard involved. If that doesn't pique your interest, nothing will.

Seriously, the ensemble is fantastic. You have Michael Glenn as Victor Emmanuelle Chandebise, a potentially cheating husband and Poche, a bell boy at the infamous Frisky Puss Hotel. His friend and business partner, Roman Tournel, is portrayed by the terribly talented Joe Brack who has been on the cast list for many of Constellation's shows. Heather Haney goes bi-lingual in the show as Raymonde's best friend Lucienne who is married to a slightly off-his-rocker Spaniard played by John Tweel. Also among the Chandebise household is Camille, portrayed to perfection by Matt McGloin. Joseph Thornhill and Stephanie Roswell argue splendidly as the married servants Etienne and Antoinette. Rounding out the house is Ashley Ivey playing the ever-horny Dr. Finache. At the Frisky Puss, Frank Britton reigns as the manager Ferraillon, Charlotte Akin as his wife, and Gwen Grastorf as the easily-bribed maid, Eugenie. Rounding out the cast with smaller but not less important roles are Lewis Freeman as Baptiste and Matt Hicks as Rugby.

The only problem I had with the show is that it's sometimes awfully loud for such a small space. At times I did have some trouble understand exactly what the actors were saying, especially if there was a lot going on at the time. I could have done without much of the screaming bits. Of course I understand why they were there, but still.

Clocking in at 2 hours and 45 minutes, the show sounds like it's going to be long, but it definitely doesn't feel like it. There are two 10-minute intermissions so you can process what you just saw and stretch your legs. It's been extended through November 8, so you have no reason not to go see it!

A Flea in Her Ear
adapted by David Ives
Constellation Theatre Company
at Source Theatre
1835 14th St, NW
Now through November 8
Tickets $17-25


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