Tag Archives: The Acting Gymnasium

A Flea in her Ear – 3 Stars

A Flea in her Ear

A Flea in her Ear

Theatro Technis

Reviewed – 8th November 2018

★★★

“The large cast bounce with energy, but this is sometimes at the detriment of clarity and cohesion”

 

Parisian housewife, Raymonde Chandebise, doubts her husband’s fidelity after he becomes sexually inactive. Confiding in her closest friend, Lucienne, they concoct a plan to test his loyalty, involving a fictitious letter from a secret admirer. Georges Feydeau’s 20th century farce unfolds between a comfortable study and the notorious hotel Coq d’Or, where a libidinous Persian in the closet and a drunken bed-hopping uncle are ingredients for a raucous romp.

The large cast bounce with energy, but this is sometimes at the detriment of clarity and cohesion. Key plot points expounded in the opening scene are hard to grasp due to diction, audibility and the fast pace of the dialogue. Particularly of note, a mishap with some braces and the function of a moving bed are both integral to the play’s comedic effect but are not given the necessary emphasis by the actors and are easily missed by the audience. The opening scene also fails to establish the relationships between various individuals which prevents the audience from appreciating the hilarity of their entanglement. The opening of the second act of the play is far clearer and is well-received by the audience, aided by the comic intervention of Thomas Witcomb as ex-military hotel manager Ferallion.

Sonoko Obuchi’s vibrant set design clearly distinguishes Chandebise’s house and the vulgar hotel. The set makes full use of the large space at Theatro Technis, which perfectly caters to the characters’ escapades. Watching the set change in the play’s two intervals is a spectacle in itself, with a large team appearing to move furniture and with loud drilling taking place to attach and remove partition walls. While this is a minor issue, it seems slightly unnecessary. A more imaginative set would avoid excessive resets and the inconsistencies in staging that later ensue. Amidst all the mayhem, the actors (understandably) commit a schoolboy error, struggling to uphold the illusion of a corridor which links the bedroom and bathroom door.

A Flea in her Ear is dialogue heavy, but the ensemble presents an excellent feat. Michael Claff as both Chandebise and Poche brings a physical humour to the characters alongside the loveable nephew, Camille, played by James Bruce who gives a standout performance. Although stereotyped, exaggerated characters are key to farce, it would be nice to see more variation between the reactions of the other characters to the ludicrous occurrences. There is lot of shouting and screaming which is quite tiring by the third act and detracts from the humorous rampage of the enraged Spaniard, Hominedes (Andre Pinto).

This absurd farce takes us on a long, chaotic journey with a plot that has the potential to induce uncontrollable laughter. For the audience to appreciate the fantastic dramatic irony of this play, the actors must ensure that the audience is in on the joke. With more attention to this, Acting Gymnasium have the basis for a highly entertaining production.

 

Reviewed by Beth Partington

 


A Flea in her Ear

Theatro Technis

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream | ★★ | April 2018
The Misanthrope | ★★ | April 2018
The Seagull | ★★★ | April 2018

 

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The Seagull – 3 Stars

Seagull

The Seagull

Theatro Technis

Reviewed – 24th April 2018

★★★

“an enjoyable watch, however, there was something left to be had from Gavin McAlinden’s direction”


Chekhov has been a source of endless inspiration for actors and directors over the hundred-plus years since the premiere of his first play, ‘The Seagull’. In the last week a new film adaptation premiered at the Tribeca film festival starring Saoirse Ronan, Annette Bening and Elisabeth Moss, giving this 19th century classic a Hollywood makeover. And why not? By focusing on actors, authors, playwrights and the theatre making itself, who’s to say whether this play will ever stop being interpreted?

Although an ensemble piece, the play charts the relations of Irina Arkadina (Leena Makoff), her lover the celebrated author Trigorin (Jared Denner), a nineteen year old neighbour Nina (Nathalie Prange) and Irina’s son Konstantin (Max Easton), who is helpless at gaining attention from either of the women he craves.

Chekhov’s plays were a change from the melodrama being produced at the time. Most of the action is not seen, either taking place offstage or between scenes – it is the way the characters react which is meaningful as opposed to the action itself. However, in this version, the performances felt slightly disjointed, as though the individual contributors were not connected in their interpretation.

Prange as Nina gave an enticing performance as a dewy-eyed, love-struck youth mesmerised by Trigorin whilst Makoff’s larger than life portrayal of the aging actress Arkadina was marvellously audacious. However, there seemed to be a slight hesitation from some of the other actors in their commitment to character.

For a play often described as a tragicomedy, the laughs were underserved, coming almost exclusively from two characters. Yasir Senna as Sorin, Konstantin’s uncle and the host of the summer gatherings, was refreshing with a jovial and mischievous manner providing light relief. Alan Kenny as the school teacher Shamrayev drew the most laughs from his pitiful, pining goodbyes which were never returned by the rest of the house guests. Moments delivered by other characters that should have stirred a laugh were either heavy handed or glossed over too quickly.

As a play that celebrates the work of the theatre and artists, the set was rather lacklustre; with only a few coloured cloths hanging from the rafters at the back of the stage. The props and costume were much more convincing – my eye continuously being drawn back to the dead body of the seagull during its appearance on stage.

The production was an enjoyable watch, however, there was something left to be had from Gavin McAlinden’s direction to bring the piece into full harmony.

 

Reviewed by Amber Woodward

 


The Seagull

Theatro Technis until May 3rd

 

Related
Running in repertory
The Misanthrope | ★★ | April 2018
A Midsummer’s Night Dream | ★★ |April 2018

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com