HCC Actors Guild performs classic “A Flea in Her Ear”
Play is widely regarded as greatest farce of all time
Special from the Bargaineer
— The Harford Community College Actors Guild is performing the classic farce “A Flea in Her Ear,” a popular, historic play that is considered by many to be one of the greatest farces of all time, even compared to the work of William Shakespeare.
Originally written by Georges Feydeau and later translated into a modern text by David Ives, the 1907 play is a comedy of errors in which miscommunication and misidentification result in chaotic laughter.
“It’s widely regarded as one of the best farces of all time,” said Ben Fisler, a theatre professor at HCC. “Many regard it as the best European farce of all time.”
Fisler said he proposed the play to the HCC Actors Guild because of its historic reputation and because it’s just a funny play. Noting that Ives wrote the transla- tion, he said, “We’ve always found him to be very, very fun.”
“This one should be very funny, but like classic funny,” Fisler said. “We were looking for an opportunity for students to do classic comedy.”
What differentiates “comedy” and “classic comedy?”
With a classic comedy, “usually it involves mistaken identities, messages not being understood, and a lot of playful innuendos and miscommunications,” Fisler said. “At its core, it’s got two people in love, and they go through a series of misadventures and end up getting back together.
“You’ve got a husband and a wife, Victor and Ramone, and they used to be very much in love, and they were blissfully in love,” Fisler continued. “But lately, Victor’s been kind of distant, and Ramone suspects he’s having an affair.
“But what’s really going on is that Victor has a medical problem and is too embarrassed to talk about it.”
Ramone proceeds to set up an elaborate scheme to catch Victor being unfaithful.
“It’s recognizable as — if you’ve seen it — one of those ‘how to catch a cheater’ shows,” Fisler said.
She anonymously sends a provocative letter to Victor at work, but Victor gives it to his coworker, who goes to the hotel, where madness ensures.
“Crazy, crazy, hotel room madness,” Fisler said. “At one point, the hotel bed is spinning and everyone is spinning off the bed and spinning on the bed.”
Farces don’t always have lessons, but this one does.
“In this case, it’s a smarter farce than others,” Fisler said. “I think there is a message. If there is one, the message of a farce is usually, ‘Stop being so stupid.’ We don’t realize how dumb we’re being sometimes.”
Though “A Flea in Her Ear” is chaotic and silly, there is a lesson to be learned.
“Any psychologist would say to Ramone, ‘Talk to Victor! Find out what’s going on,’” Fisler said. “Sometimes we do the silly thing and not the smart thing. Remember to go to the people who love you when you have a problem. I don’t think it’s a particularly profound message, but it’s an important message.”
Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $8 for patrons age 17 and younger and are available by visiting LIVEatHarfordCC.com, at the HCC Ticket Office in the Chesapeake Center, or by calling 443-412-2211. Reasonable accommodations for a documented disability may be requested by calling Disability Support Services, 443-412-2402, in advance of participation. A minimum notice of two weeks may be needed to provide some accommodations.
The HCC Actors Guild will perform A Flea in Her Ear on November 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 8 PM and November 6 and 13 at 3 PM in Harford Community College’s Chesapeake Theater.