Oh, the farce - such ridiculousness, always treading the fine line between absurdity and hilarity. Tacoma Little Theatre's production, directed by Frank Kohel, of A Flea in Her Ear is no exception. For the production TLT chose a new version of George Feydeau's French farce as translated by David Ives. A Flea in Her Ear has all the classic elements one would expect - mistaken identity, misdirection, missed meetings, misunderstandings, double entendres, bawdy behavior and plain silliness.
TLT pulls off the technical aspects of the show quite well. Dane Goulet created beautiful backdrops by working wonders with donations the theater gets from Gray Lumber Company. A highlight was the rotating set that adds to the slapstick in Act Two. Costume designer Frances Rankos did a fabulous job creating and acquiring authentic-looking turn-of-the-century pieces for the actors to wear.
Speaking of the actors - they all did a fine job. Whether lead or supporting, everyone worked to embrace the goal. Some of the minor characters stood out and got bigger laughs than the main characters. Notably, drunken Baptiste was played by Curtis Beech with perfect comedic timing. And Laura Nichol (Eugenie) was delightful to watch as the increasingly flummoxed and indifferent maid at the Frisky Puss Hotel.
Of the lead actors, four managed to bring the absurdity of their characters to life without stepping too far into caricature. Heidi Walworth-Horn (Raymonde Chandebise), Rachel Permann (Lucienne Homenides de Histangua), Mike Slease (Don Carlos Homenides de Histangua) and Mark Peterson (Romain Tournel) had great timing and played off each other with ease and proficiency. Permann and Slease handled their bits of Spanish dialogue amazingly well.
TLT did everything right in producing this play. A Flea in Her Ear follows the three-act structure implicitly. Act One has everyone getting worked up; all hell breaks loose in Act Two; and Act Three sees all the misunderstandings cleared up with no hard feelings from anyone.
It's a formulaic plot line but the cast and crew of Tacoma Little Theatre manage to elicit laughs from the audience throughout the play with their skill and attention to detail.
A Flea in Her Ear
March 27, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, $15–$24
Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 N. I St., Tacoma