When it comes to the farce of thwarted adultery, no one does it — or should that be “nearly does it”? — better than the French. Georges Feydeau, the prolific author who perfected theater’s kookiest comic genre, was known for his amorous adventures, but his best-loved characters tend to fall short of their adulterous goals, much to everyone’s amusement, in and out of the play. This weekend, the Theatre Group at Santa Barbara City College will present Feydeau’s best known work, the 1907 classic A Flea in Her Ear, in a recent translation by the brilliant American playwright David Ives.
Judging by the work Ives has done on some earlier French comedies, in particular The Liar by Pierre Corneille, this ought to be a perfect match. Ives has a shrewd command of idiom and timing that makes him an ideal interpreter of these witty, fast-paced evenings full of misidentification and absurd behavior. R. Michael Gros, who is directing this production, calls the play “a fractured fairy tale with plenty of innuendo” but goes on to specify that, in the true sex farce tradition, “everything almost happens, but then nothing really does.” The cast is led by Sean Jackson in a dual role, and the spectacular set — always a key element in these action-packed comedies — is by Patricia Frank. Pamela Shaw has whipped up some glamorous French fashions, including not one but two French maid outfits. Expect naughtiness sans vulgarity and expert stagecraft in the service of situations that rapidly become completely absurd. If the nonsense of contemporary reality has gotten you down, then A Flea in Her Ear ought to be just the thing to wipe away those alternative-fact blues and put a silly smile of pure pleasure on your face.
4·1·1 A Flea in Her Ear plays at SBCC’s Garvin Theatre through March 18, with a preview tonight, March 2, at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and information, call (805) 965-5935 or visit theatregroupsbcc.com.