Ben Crop

SBCC Presents ‘A Flea in Her Ear’

Theatre Group at Santa Barbara City College Performs Outlandish Farce

Bedroom farces, such as the current Theatre Group at SBCC production A Flea in Her Ear, are excursions into a universe liberated from the consequences of social grievances. The outlandish mad-cappery of Flea is set in motion when two socialite wives, Raymonde (Addison Clarke) and Lucienne (Courtney Schwass), conspire in an ill-fated plot to trap Raymonde’s husband in flagrante, by sending him a steamy proposition letter soaked in perfume. Three acts’ worth of mistaken identities, doppelgangers, slapstick, innuendo, and skirt chasing ensue — but rest assured that conclusion brings complete resolution, and all the characters forget and forgive the buffoonish offenses they’ve both suffered and perpetuated throughout the play.

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SBCC’s production of Flea, which runs through March 18 at the Garvin Theatre, is a surprisingly honest presentation of farce. Featuring several suitably over-the-top characterizations and tireless physical performances, the cast tore the set to shreds — literally. Doors were slammed off their hinges, and costumes were bursting at the seams, which provided a strangely apt sense of destruction within a piece where the humor depends on a reality exaggerated far beyond rationalism. Commanding performances by Sean Jackson (as both Victor Chandebise and his double, drunk bellhop Poche) and Pacomio Sun, as jealous, deranged Spaniard Don Carlos Homenides de Histangua, kept a stumbling performance on its feet, forcing the story to stay in scene despite numerous chaotic moments that brought the cast desperately close to complete breakdown.

While slow to start, A Flea in Her Ear hit its stride in the second act when the characters all meet up through coincidence and deceptive design at the Frisky Puss Hotel. There was an atmosphere of true mirth onstage that conveyed the deliciously ridiculous elements of the story in a satisfying manner. The Theatre Group at SBCC’s Flea doesn’t have polished choreography, but it still delivers joyful, vigorous performances that inspire genuine laughter.

Presented by the Theatre Group at SBCC. At Garvin Theatre, Sat., Mar. 4. Shows through Mar. 18.

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