A Flea in Her Ear

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A Flea in Her Ear
Written byGeorges Feydeau
Date premiered 1907 (1907-MM)
Original languageFrench
SettingParis
 
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A Flea in Her Ear
Written byGeorges Feydeau
Date premiered 1907 (1907-MM)
Original languageFrench
SettingParis

A Flea in Her Ear (in French: La Puce à l'oreille) is a play by Georges Feydeau written in 1907, at the height of the Belle Époque.

Plot[edit]

The play is set in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. Raymonde Chandebise, after years of wedded bliss, begins to doubt the fidelity of her husband, Victor Emmanuel, who has suddenly become sexually inactive. Raymonde is unaware that his behavior is due to a nervous condition. She confides her doubts to her old friend Lucienne, who suggests a trick to test him. They write him a letter, in Lucienne’s handwriting, from a fictitious and anonymous admirer, requesting a rendezvous at the Hotel Coq d’Or, an establishment with a dubious reputation, but a large and prominent clientele. Raymonde intends to confront her husband there, and she and Lucienne leave to do so.

When Victor Emmanuel receives the letter, however, he has no interest in such an affair and believes the invitation from the mysterious woman was meant for his best friend Tournel, a handsome bachelor. Unknown to Victor Emmanuel, Tournel has his eye on Raymonde and eagerly exits to make the appointment.

Camille, the young nephew of Victor Emmanuel, is overjoyed to have his speech impediment corrected by a new silver palate from Dr. Finache. In celebration, he and the household cook, Antoinette, also hurry to the Hotel Coq d’Or, followed by Etienne, Antoinette's jealous husband. Dr. Finache decides to go to the hotel in search of his own afternoon rendezvous.

Victor Emmanuel shows the letter to Lucienne’s husband, Carlos Homenides de Histangua, a passionate and violent Spaniard. Carlos recognizes Lucienne’s handwriting and assumes that she is trying to start an affair with Victor Emmanuel. He runs off to the hotel, vowing to kill her. Victor Emmanuel, hoping to prevent the threatened murder, hurries off in pursuit.

The various characters arrive in search of their goals: Finache for fun; Raymonde for Victor Emmanuel; Tournel for Raymonde; Camille with Antoinette, followed by Etienne; Carlos for Lucienne; and Victor Emmanuel to stop Carlos.

Carlos, attempting to kill his wife, shoots at anything that moves. Victor Emmanuel sees Raymonde talking with Tournel and believes she is unfaithful. Victor Emmanuel is believed to be insane when Poche, an alcoholic porter at the hotel who is a dead ringer for Victor Emmanuel, is mistaken for him. Camille loses his palate, and Tournel tries very hard to seduce Raymonde.

The confusion persists even after all are reunited again at Victor Emmanuel’s house. Things begin to clear up when Carlos discovers a rough copy of the letter written by Lucienne on Raymonde’s desk, this one in Raymonde’s handwriting. The owner of the hotel comes by to return an article left behind by a member of the household and clears up the confusion between his porter and Victor Emmanuel. Finally, Raymonde tells Victor Emmanuel the cause of her suspicions, and he assures her that he will put an end to her doubts—tonight.

Characters[edit]

Victor Emmanuel Chandebise is the faithful husband to Raymonde. He is having emotional issues that lead Raymonde to believe he is cheating on her. He looks remarkably like Poche.

Raymonde Chandebise believes her husband Victor Emmanuel is cheating when she, in fact, is having an affair with Romain Tournel. Her best friend is Lucienne.

Camille is the nephew to Victor Emmanuel. His speech impediment (being unable to pronounce consonants) leads people to lose their patience with him. He receives a silver palate to correct his impediment from Dr. Finache but promptly loses it at the Hotel.

Lucienne Homenides De Histangua is the best friend of Raymonde and the wife of Carlos. She introduces Raymonde to the plot to incriminate her husband.

Don Carlos Homenides De Histangua is a client of Victor Emmanuel and an extremely jealous husband. He carries guns regularly and is not afraid to use them.

Romain Tournel is the best friend and business partner of Victor Emmanuel and the lover of Raymonde. Chandebise sends him to the Hotel Coq d'Or, where he is delighted to find Raymonde.

Dr. Finache is the doctor for the Life Insurance Co. that Chandebise and Tournel work for. He is a personal friend of Victor Emmanuel and Victor's nephew Camille and helps them with their issues. He is a frequent patron of the Hotel Coq d'Or.

Etienne is the nosy butler of Victor Emmanuel, married to Antoinette.

Ferallion is the militarous proprietor of the Hotel Coq d'Or, the nephew of Baptistin, and the husband of Olympe.

Olympe is an ex-prostitute and the wife of Feraillon.

Antoinette is the cook in the Chandebise home, married to Etienne but having an affair with Camille.

Eugenie is a maid in the hotel, may or may not be fooling around with Poche.

Baptistin is Feraillon's drunken uncle whom he employs.

Rugby is randy British guest at the hotel who speaks little or no French. He attempts to seduce Lucienne and Antoinette. In translated versions, this character is often replaced with different names and ethnicities (such as a German man named "Herr Schwarz" in the 1967 English-language BBC production[1]).

Adaptions and performance history[edit]

Television[edit]

The BBC broadcast a production of the play on 7 June 1967. It marked the television debut of Anthony Hopkins, playing Étienne Plucheux. The same year, the RAI -TV of Italy gave a live broadcast from the Teatro Stabile of Genoa, directed by Luigi Squarzina, starring Olga Villi and Alberto Lionello.

Film[edit]

John Mortimer then wrote the screenplay for a 1968 20th Century Fox feature film directed by Jacques Charon (who had also directed Mortimer's 1966 translation for the stage). The cast included Rex Harrison, Rosemary Harris, Louis Jourdan, and Rachel Roberts.

Stage[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

John Mortimer translated the play for the National Theatre, opening at the Old Vic in 1966. It was directed by Jacques Charon and starred Albert Finney and Geraldine McEwan. This translation was revived at the same theatre from 4 December 2010 to 5 March 2011, directed by Richard Eyre and starring Tom Hollander and Lisa Dillon[1].

America[edit]

The first American production - an updated translation - occurred in the spring of 1967 at the Loeb Theater, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

An English language translation by Barnett Shaw had a brief Broadway run at the ANTA Playhouse in 1969. It was directed by Gower Champion and starred Robert Gerringer and Ruth Kobart.

An adaptation by Jean-Marie Besset and Mark O'Donnell was staged by the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City in 1998. Directed by Bill Irwin, it opened on 5 March and ran for 77 performances. The cast included Mark Linn-Baker, Alice Playten, and Richard B. Shull.

An adaptation by David Ives was commissioned by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and first performed March 10, 2006 at CST.[2] This version was performed by the Constellation Theatre Company at the Source Theater in Washington, DC from 8 October to 8 November 2009, by the Rockville [ Maryland ] Little Theatre from 5–14 October 2012,[3] and by the Hedgerow Theater (Rose Valley, Pennsylvania) in March–April 2013.

Czech Republic[edit]

Východočeské divadlo, Pardubice[edit]
Městské divadlo, Brno[edit]
Divadlo Na Vinohradech, Prague[edit]

Serbia[edit]

Yugoslav Drama Theatre, Belgrade[edit]

Translated as Buba u uhu and directed by Ljubiša Ristić, the premiere took place on 7 June 1971. With approximately 1,500 performances as of May 2013, Buba u uhu is the longest-running play in the history of Serbian theater.

Original cast:

Film[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ IMDB entry for 1967 BBC production
  2. ^ A Flea in her Ear by David Ives (Dramatists Play Service; 2006) p. 2, retrieved from Google Books 6 October 2012
  3. ^ http://www.rlt-online.org/ retrieved 6 October 2012