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A Flea in Her Ear, Main Street Theatre Works,
June 23 - July 23, 2011

Main Street Theatre Works opened their season last weekend with a French bedroom farce – A Flea in Her Ear, by Georges Feydeau. What’s a French bedroom farce, you ask? Oh, ho, ho, ho – it’s comedy of errors, mistaken identities, a bit of vaudevillian slapstick and naughty innuendo, all taking place, in this case, in a Paris home and a hotel of notorious reputation.
Main Street Theatre Works attracts very talented actors from around the region and this high energy period piece gave this cast of 14 something to really get their teeth into.

The play was written in 1907 and translated from the French, but we think you’ll be surprised at how contemporary the bedroom jokes and character stereotypes are. A Flea in Her Ear reminded me of the antics of Lucy and Ethel in an I Love Lucy episode, and it’s Feydeau’s most performed theatrical work today. A 1968 movie version of A Flea in Her Ear starred Rex Harrison. 

When Victor Chandebise’s wife suspects him of having an affair, she gets what we say in the U.S., “a bug in her ear…” she confides in her good friend Lucienne, who suggests a way to entrap him. Their plan to lure him to a rendezvous at a hotel of ill repute spectacularly misfires, resulting in mistaken identities and comic disaster.

Director Allen Pontes reined in the stage exuberance just enough to keep the hilarity from becoming pure silliness. Ernesto Bustos was monumental as Lucienne’s jealous Spanish husband and Earl Victorine earned his pay switching back and forth between the roles of Victor Chandebise and Poche, a drunken hotel porter.

The Main Street Theatre Works production employs a range of accents from a very pronounced French accent by Lee Marie Kelly as Raymonde Chandebise to no accent at all (by most of the male cast). While Kelly uses her accent to good comedic effect it was confusing initially – one wondered if her character was meant to be foreign. I would have preferred the cast to skip the faux French.

There are so many reasons you’ll enjoy A Flea in Her Ear – for the comedy, for the turn-of-the-century Paris culture, for the polished acting, for the relaxing setting on a beautiful summer night.

So go! Bring: layers of clothing for cool summer nights, mosquito repellent, a low-lying chair or blanket, a picnic dinner and a bottle of wine. Gates open at 6:30 pm for picnicking. The performance begins at 8 pm.  The Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre is located on Jackson Gate Road next to the Country Squire Motel. A Flea in Her Ear plays at the Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre, Friday and Saturday nights through July 23rd.  Tickets are available on-line at www.mstw.org and at Hein and Company Book store in Jackson.

Murder on the Nile – Volcano Theatre Company,
June 17 -  July 9, 2011

Last Friday night we journeyed back in time and half way around the world captivated by Volcano Theatre Company’s Murder on the Nile.

Agatha Christy’s play is based on her novel, Death on the Nile, and in true Agatha Christy fashion, the story starts with a lot of talking – introducing the audience to the quirks and intrigues of the cast of characters in this floating murder mystery. So be patient – things don’t heat up until the end of the first act.

Directed by 32-year VTC veteran Bob Duzdevich, a number of new faces and outright stage rookies pulled off a solid performance in the outdoor amphitheater in Volcano.  We loved Armen Kendig’s low key steward, and Marry Simoni as the jilted girlfriend. Long –time VTC regulars Dick Carter and Sue Haldane nailed the stereoptypical German "doktor" and overbearing matron, Miss folliott-ffoulkes. Two bit parts – the beadsellers, played by Rika Hood and Judy Hunt stole the show when they were on stage.

The telling compliment was when audience members on their way out were heard discussing who they'd thought the murderer was. They had, of course, been wrong. We thoroughly enjoyed the performance and we bet you will too. Our only critique at the opening night show was for the sound engineering – we sat in back with our one-year old granddaughter (in case we needed a quick getaway!)  The amphitheater is not large and we all had difficulty hearing dialog. So sit near the front if you think you might appreciate more volume from the actors.

So go! Doors open at 6:30 and curtain time is 8 pm. Bring lawn chairs or a blanket, a picnic and get there early, as the amphitheater fills up quickly once the doors open. And it gets cold after dark – we bring sweatshirts, blankets and bug spray when we go to the outdoor shows.

Murder on the Nile plays in the Volcano Amphitheatre Friday and Saturday nights through July 9, with an additional performance at 8 pm on Sunday, June 26.  Tickets are available on-line at volcanotheatre.org and at Hein and Company book store in Jackson.