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A Flea in her Ear at The Old Vic

Marion Marples

The Old Vic has a winner with its Christmas show this year. Feydeau’s A Flea in her Ear, starring a brilliant Tom Hollander, whirls along with split second precision and timing, not to mention mounting humour.

This play, written in 1907 and first seen in England in 1918, remains the classic unrivalled farce, the inspiration for Fawlty Towers and much else. Characters enter and exit with astonishing rapidity and comic situations abound, particularly when the aristocratic Chandebise household finds itself relocated to a well known brothel, Le Coq d’Or.

John Mortimer’s excellent translation, first heard at the Vic in 1966, enhances the confusion and layers of misunderstanding. Hollander stands out, playing two similar but different characters, Victor Emanuel Chandebise and hotel porter Poche, who provide the comedic narrative. But everyone else, his wife Raymonde (Lisa Dillon) and her old friend Lucienne (Fiona Glascott), her Spanish husband Carlos (John Marquez) and Doctor Finache (Oliver Cotton) cannot be faulted.

The end of Act One explodes in gun shots, near naked guests as well as a fine display of Victorian underwear, not forgetting the sudden appearance of police whose presence needs no further explanation.

The run continues till 5 March – give yourself a rare treat!

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