La Puce à l’oreille

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La Puce à l’oreille, is a French Comedy of Farce written by Goreges Feydeau and printed in 1709. The comedy was later published in 1909 and then translated to English as a Flea in her Ear in 1966.[1]

Characters

Victor Emmanuel Chandebise

Chandebise works for a life insurance company and is married to Raymonde. He has been abstaining from sex due to a nervous condition. He is has no confidence in himself and is very impotent in both his personal and public life such as when dealing with threat. He is the Epitome of impotence in both his sexual life and social one.

Poche

Is the drunk, bumbling bell boy of the Hotel Coq d’Or. He is often physically reprimanded by his Boss, Ferallion for being lazy and making mistakes. He is often found drinking. His most striking feature is that he looks exactly like Chandebise (though there is no relation) to the point where even Chandebise’s best fried Tournel and his wife Raymonde are fooled.

Raymonde Chandebise

Raymonde is the wife of Chandebise. She believes that Chandebise is having an affair meanwhile she is having a fake affair with Tournel. When she discovers evidence that Chandebise is cheating she decides to catch him in the act by whiting a fake letter.

Camille

Camille is the nephew of Chandebise. He has a reputation for being chaste and having never been with a woman, but this reputation is false. He is having an affair with Antoinette and presumably others on the side. Camille has a speech impediment due to a cleft pallet, which is corrected by a silver pallet. Without the pallet Camille cannot pronounce consonants and only certain characters understand him.

Lucienne Homenides De Histangua

Lucienne is a childhood friend of Raymonde. She is married to Don Carlos Homenides De Histangua. She is a very crafty and scheming woman. She is the one who suggests that Raymonde use a letter from a secret admirer. After Histangua finds the letter in her handwriting she fleas able to reason with her husband, but immediately forgives him for trying to kill her after the truth is revealed.

Don Carlos Homenides De Histangua

Don Carlos is the Husband of Lucienne. His character revolves around being Spanish and is even being described as a “Spanish Bull” [2] in the beginning of the play. Don Carlos is a very jealous and violent man, who carries around pistols. He loves Lucienne very much and decides to kill both her and her supposed lover after reading the letter. He holds a grudge against Chandebise for seemingly having an affair with his wife.

Romain Tournel

Tournel is Chandebise’s best friend and co-worker for the life insurance company. He is also having an affair with Raymonde, but she is less receptive to his advances. He goes to the Hotel Coq d’Or in order to meet the mysterious woman who sent a love letter to Chandebise.

Dr. Finache

The Doctor works for Chandebise’s insurance company. He enjoys the fine things in life, such as wine and woman. The Doctor gives Camille the silver pallet to help his speaking. He goes to the Coq d’Or in order to meet women. He is implied to be a regular at the hotel.

Etienne

Etienne is the butler of the Chandebise’s household. He is suspicious of his wife, Antoinette, but is oblivious of her flirtatious ways. He is very strict and often yells at his wife.

Ferraillon

Ferraillon is the owner of the Coq d’Or. He is in love with his wife Olympe and flirts with her often. He is violent to his bell boy Poche which leads to some slapstick humor between him and Poche, or Chandebise.

Olympe

Olympe is a former famous prostitute. Her Husband is Ferallion.

Antoinette

Antoinette is the Maid of the Chandebise house. She is married to Etienne, but has a relationship with Caimelle that she is able to hide pretty well. She was seen at the Hotel by her husband, but is still able to come up with a plan to cover her tracks.

Eugenie

The maid in the Hotel Coq d’Or. She tends to poke fun at the reputation the hotel has acquired.

Baptistin

He is the drunk uncle of Ferallion. His job is to play a man sick with rheumatism in order to throw off jealous spouses. He has a permanent room in the hotel and sits on a rotating bed in order to cover for illicit couples who are trying to keep their relationship secret.

Rugby

Rugby is an Englishman that no one can understand. He is waiting to meet a woman who constantly His Nationality sometimes changes based on which country the play is being acted out. Another notable name that has been shown is Shwartzs, the German.

Settings

The overall setting is Paris during the early 1900‘s. but the play itself takes place in two places the Chandebise house and The Hotel Coq d’Or.

The Chandebise Household

The Chandenise home - Set designs by Tom Umfrid
The Chandenise home - Set designs by Tom Umfrid

The Chandebise Household is a typical town house. This is where Act One and Act Three takes place. This is where most of the normal action takes place. The exposition and the resolution takes place there. This is where everything is normal or returns to normal.

The Hotel Coq d’Or

The Hotel Coq d'Or - Set designs by Tom Umfrid
The Hotel Coq d'Or - Set designs by Tom Umfrid

The Hotel Coq d’Or (The Golden Cockerel) is a hotel for couples who are married but not to each other. Some of the characters frequent the hotel for that reason. The Hotel even has revolving beds in order to throw off suspicious spouses.
Some English plays refer to the Hotel as the "Frisky Pussy" or the "Pretty Pussy."
The Coq d’Or is an example of a green world. This is a term used to describe “magic” place where everything in the play changes. For example, Poche (Chandebise’s double) is introduced which causes confusion between the house of Chandebise and the workers of the hotel. This is the part of the play where everything dissolves into Chaos.[3]

Synopsis

Act 1[4] [5]
The act opens with Antoinette and Camille hiding their sordid relationship from Etienne. Raymonde and Lucienne talk about how Chandebise has not performed in bed recently. Raymonde believes that Chandebise is having an affair. They decide to trick Chandebise into revealing himself by sending him a letter written in Lucienne’s hand writing.

Meanwhile, Camille receives a silver pallet from Dr. Finache in order to help his speaking problems. He and Antoinette go to the hotel to celebrate.
Upon reading the message Chandebise is first excited, but then, believes that the writer mistook him for Tournel, who goes to the Hotel to meet the mysterious woman. Chandebise then shows the letter to Don Carlo who recognizes his wife’s hand writing and decides to go after to kill her. Chandebise goes to the hotel to warn Lucienne and Tournel of the danger.
Act 2[6] [7]
The staff of the Hotel Coq d’Or are getting ready for the night. It is remarked that a room has been requested for Chandebise twice but only one room is reserved and anyone who gives the name “Chandebise” should be allowed to enter.

The first to arrive are Raymonde and Tournel. They talk about their affair and what it is supposed to be about and the meaning of the letter. Tournel repeatedly tries to push to go further in their affair but Raymonde stays loyal to her husband.
Soon the entire Chandebise household has come to the hotel and are causing chaos. Camille loses his palette in a fight with Rugby. Chandebise and the bell boy, Poche are repeatedly confused with each other, especially after they accidentally switch clothing. The chaos comes to a climax when Don Carlos comes in shooting at anything that moves and Chandebise comes face to face with his wife and best friend.
Act 3 [8] [9]
Etienne returns home to find his wife there. He knows she was at the hotel but she has a “witness” that says she was at home all day.

Raymonde, Tournel, and Lucienne return to the Chandebise house and discuss how both their husbands have gone mad. Chandebise returns home to confront his wife, Don Carlos still wants revenge and Poche comes to get his bellboy uniform which Chandebise still has. When confronted with the two apparent personalities Dr. Finache proclaims Chandebise a raging alcoholic and tries to cure him with ammonia. Meanwhile, Lucienne is able to explain the day’s events to her husband and shows him proof that she is telling the truth. Chandebise comes face to face with Poche for the first time. Finally, Raymonde is able to explain what had happened to her husband (and not Poche for the third time), and Chandebise is able to amass the courage to explain why he had been avoiding sex.

Playwright - George Feydaue

Biography

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Faydaue was born on December 8, 1862, in Paris, France.[10] He debuted in 1880 after writing a monologue but only truly became famous after the debut of the play a Gown for his Mistress. In 1886, after a long dry period, Feydue spent two years under masters of the art of Farce, such as; Eugène Scribe, Eugène Labiche, Henri Meilhac, and Alfred Hennequin.[11] Later, the dry spell would end with the play The Happy Hunter written in 1829. Almost every Farce Feydaue wrote was sure to be a hit.
Feydaue had a bohemian lifestyle that would eventually lead to his downfall. He would often sleep until midday, get up to work until seven or eight at night, before heading out for a night on the town and coming back I the early morning.[12] His action constantly grate on the nerves of his wife which only makes their already existing marriage problems worse. Feydaue dies on June 5, 1921 at the age of 59.[13] He goes mad due to a vernal diseases and ends up spending his final years in a mental institution.
Other Plays[14]

Tailleur pour dames

Printed in 1886, and Published in 1888
A Gown for His Mistress, 1969

L’Affaire Édouard

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Printed and published in 1889 in collaboration with Maurice Desvallières
Printed and published in 1892 in collaboration with Maurice Desvallières

Champignol malgré lui

A Close Shave, 1892

Monsieur chasse!

Printed in 1892, and Published in 1896
The Happy Hunter, 1973

Un Fil à la patte

Printed in 1894, and published in 1899
Not By Bed Alone, 1970

L’Hôtel du Libre-Échange

Printed in 1894, and published in 1928 in collaboration with Maurice Desvallières
Hotel Paradiso, 1957

Le Dindon

Printed in 1896, and published in 1949
There Is One in Every Marriage, 1970

La Dame de chez Maxim

Printed in 1899, and published in 1914The Lady from Maxim’s, 1899

La Duchesse des Folies-Bergère

Printed in 1902, and published in 1955

La Main passe!

Printed in 1904, and published in 1906
Chemin de Fer, 1968
"La Puce à L'oreille."

Le Bourgeon

Printed in 1906, and published in 1907

Occupe-toi d’Amélie

Printed in 1908, and published in 1911
Keep an Eye on Amélie, 1958

Feu la mère de Madame

Printed in 1908, and published in 1923
Better Late, 1973

On purge bébé

Printed and Published in 1910
Going to Pot, 1970

“Mais n’te promène donc pas toute nue!”

Printed in 1911, and published in 1912
Don’t Run Around in the Nude, 1987

Léonie est en avance: Ou, Le Mal Joli

Printed in 1911, and published in 1919
The Pregnant Pause: Or, Love’s Labor Lost, 1985

Hortense a dit: “Je m’en fous!”

Printed in 1916, and published in 1948
Tooth and Consequence, 1976

Théâtre complet

Published in 1948-1956
9 volumes

Four Farces by Georges Feydaue

Published in 1970

Five by Feydaue

Published in 1994

Legacy

Feydeau is associated with the theater of the belle e’poque or beautiful time. This refers to the time between the 1889 World’s Fair and World War I. He is thought to be one of the greatest French comics after Moliere. He is also known as the King of Farce.[15]

Gags

Mistaken Identity

Chandebise and Poche

Chandebise and Poche look so similar that they are played by the same actor to get the point across. The comedy based around the mistaken identity of Chandebise and Poche leads to some very interesting

Analise Langford as Raymonde Chandebise (center)and Steve Mackay as Poche (left) and Victor Emmanuel Chandebise (right)- Woodland Opera House
Analise Langford as Raymonde Chandebise (center)and Steve Mackay as Poche (left) and Victor Emmanuel Chandebise (right)- Woodland Opera House

scenes between characters. Raymonde and Tournel beg Poche for forgiveness thinking he is Chandebise and the respectable Chandebise is struck repeatedly by Ferallion who believes him to Poche. At times the characters even switch clothing. More comedy ensues when Poche comes to return Camille’s silver Pallet and is immediately thought to be Chandebise and that Chandebise is a drunkard.

The Lover

The idea of a Secret lover is what the entire play revolves around. Each character believes there is one; either a secret admirer or a secret affair. Only the audience knows that there is no true affair and that the characters beliefs are false.

Slapstick gags

Some of the slapstick gags seen in Feydaue’s were borrowed from silent movies.[16]

Don Carlos spit take

The spit take is one of the classic theater gags that never get old. Feydeau manages to put it in twice. Don Carlo Finds a glass of what looks like water abandoned on a table. The Spanish Bull Dose not know is something was added to the water to make it unpalatable (boric acid is used the first time and later ammonia).[17]

Ferraillon’s abuse of Poche/ Chandebise

Physical abuse is one of the most popular types of Farce. Ferallion used to work in the army and tries to recreate that in his Hotel. His confusion regarding Poche and Chandebise is funny because Ferraillon would not have reacted to Chandebise the same way, had he known who the aristocrat actually was.

Entrances and exits

There are 274. They are meant to cause a sense of chaos and rushing. Sometimes Characters are on the stage for mere seconds before leaving again. These are made funny by the near misses and last second escapes that seem to happen every few seconds.

Cultural Gags / stereotypes

Don Carlos Homenides De Histangua

Histangua is the French stereotype of a typical Spanish man. He is loud, angry and violent. His violent tendencies shooting up the Hotel Coq d’Or and wanting to duel Chandebise for having an affair with his wife.

Rugby

Rugby is a stereotypical man of English decent. However, this may change due to the country the play is being performed. This is the Directors choice. The character of Rugby is based on solely on the culture he represents and acts as comic relief based on the stereotypes around the culture.

Miscommunication

Camille’s speech impediment.

Camille has a cleft pallet, which makes him unable to pronounce consonants.[18] This is fixed easily with a silver pallet witch is given to him by Dr. Finache. There are two points that shop the points that make fun of Camille’s problem. The first is that Lucienne, like the Audience, has no idea what he is saying, and is shocked when Raymonde can have a full conversation with him. Later, when Raymonde and Tournel meet Camille in the hotel they think he cannot be Camille because he has the silver pallet in and can speak normally.

Rugby (or any other name given)

Rugby does not speak the native language and no one can understand him. He often communicates using physical movements and body language. His intentions are obvious when it comes to women.

Criticism

Feydaue’s plays were so successful during his lifetime that the DeGaulle’s Minister of Culture, Andre Malraux, put out a directive against the plays. He worried that the popularly of the plays were taking the places of classic plays. In America, Feydaue’s plays were not as well liked because the humor was geared toward French culture.[19]
Thom Bassett compared the “A Flea in Her Ear” to manic antics rather than farce citing the numerous sexual innuendos that appear from the first few minutes onward.Over-acting and taking the slapstick aspect of the comedy too far ends up ruining the play rather than enhancing it as the play should have.[20]

Legacy

Theater

A Flea in Her Ear[21]

This Broadway performance took place in October of 1969. There were eleven performances during this time. Feydaue‘s work was translated by Barnett Shaw. The play was directed by Gower Champion and Eugene Barcone.

Cast
Victor-Emmanuel Chandebise / Poche – Robert Gerringer
Raymonde Chandebise (referred to as Yvonne) – Carol Teitel
Romain Tournel – Philip Kerr
Lucienne Homenides De Histangua (referred to as Serrita) – Ann Weldon
Carlos Homenides De Histangua – Herman Poppe
Camille Chandebise – Michael O'Sullivan
Augustin Ferraillon – Ray Reinhardt
Docteur Finache – Harry Frazier
Olympe Ferraillon (referred to as Olivia) – Ruth Kobart
Antoinette – Deborah Sussel
Etienne – Barry MacGregor
Eugénie – Izetta Smith
Rugby – George Ede
Baptistin – Robert Lanchester

Movie

===The Flea in her Ear[22]
A French comedy directed by Stellio Lorenzi based on the play La Puce a’ l’oreille written by Georges Feydeau. This movie started playing in 1956 and was performed in French.
Cast
Victor-Emmanuel Chandebise / Poche – Pierre Mondy
Raymonde Chandebise – Marthe Mercadier
Romain Tournel – Pierre Mondy
Lucienne Homenides De Histangua (refered to as Yvonne Homenidès) – Charlotte Kady
Carlos Homenides De Histangua – Robert Manuel
Camille Chandebise – Albert Rémy
Augustin Ferraillon – Louis de Funès
Docteur Finache – Alfred Adam
Olympe Ferraillon – Suzanne Dantès
Antoinette – Solange Certain
Etienne – Pascal Mazzotti
Eugénie – Jeanine Sudreau
Rugby – Jess Hahn
Baptistin – Jean Bellanger
===A Flea in Her Ear[23]
An English movie based on the French play, directed by Michael Hayes. The script is translated by John Mortimer. The movie was created in the United Kingdom and is the first English version of "Flea in Her Ear"
Cast
Victor-Emmanuel Chandebise / Poche – Robert Lang
Raymonde Chandebise – Geraldine McEwan
Romain Tournel – John Stride
Lucienne Homenides De Histangua – Anne Godley
Carlos Homenides De Histangua – Frank Wylie
Camille Chandebise – Edward Hardwicke
Augustin Ferraillon – Michael Turner
Docteur Finache – Kenneth MacKintosh
Olympe Ferraillon – Margo Cunningham
Antoinette – Sheila Reid
Etienne – Anthony Hopkins
Eugénie – Petronella Barker
Rugby (Recognized as Herr Schwarz) – Peter Cellier
Baptistin – Reginald Green
===La puce ‘a l’oreille[24]
A movie directed by Yves Di Tullio and produced by the Centre National de la Cine’matographe (CNC) in 1997. The movie is a comedy based on the play of the same name based on the play of the same name. The movie is acted out in French.
Cast
Victor-Emmanuel Chandebise / Poche – Jean-Paul Belmondo
Raymonde Chandebise – Cristiana Re’ali
Romain Tournel – Pierre Vernier
Lucienne Homenides De Histangua – Charlotte Kady
Carlos Homenides De Histangua – Antoine Duléry
Camille Chandebise – Jean-Paul Bordes
Augustin Ferraillon – Laurent Gamelon
Docteur Finache – Gaston Vacchia
Olympe Ferraillon – Arlette Didier
Antoinette – Brigitte Chamarande
Etienne – Urbain Cancelier
Eugénie – Cécile Arrieu
Rubby – Paul Bandey
Baptistin – Serge Berry
  1. ^




    Rollyson, Carl E., and Frank N. Magill. Critical Survey of Drama. Pasadena, CA: Salem, 2003. Print.
  2. ^




    Freydeau,Georges. A Flea in her Ear; a Farce. London: French, 1968.Print.
  3. ^




    Freydeau,Georges. A Flea in her Ear; a Farce. London: French, 1968.Print.
  4. ^

    ==


    Freydeau,Georges. A Flea in her Ear; a Farce. London: French, 1968.Print.
  5. ^



    **
    Ketcherside, Gene. "A Flea in Her Ear - Act 1." YouTube.
    April 18, 2013. Accessed May 05, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6SVy0s3e0g.
  6. ^

    ==


    Freydeau,Georges. A Flea in her Ear; a Farce. London: French, 1968.Print.
  7. ^



    **
    Ketcherside, Gene. "A Flea in Her Ear - Act 2." YouTube. April 18, 2013. Accessed May 05, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgzyEQIdx0Q.
  8. ^

    **==


    Freydeau,Georges. A Flea in her Ear; a Farce. London: French, 1968.Print.
  9. ^



    **
    Ketcherside, Gene. "A Flea in Her Ear - Act 3." YouTube. April 18, 2013. Accessed May 05, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjTZqT52EcY.
  10. ^




    Rollyson, Carl E., and Frank N. Magill. Critical Survey of Drama. Pasadena, CA: Salem, 2003. Print.
  11. ^ Rollyson, Carl E., and Frank N. Magill. Critical Survey of Drama. Pasadena, CA: Salem, 2003. Print.
  12. ^




    Rollyson, Carl E., and Frank N. Magill. Critical Survey of Drama. Pasadena, CA: Salem, 2003. Print.
  13. ^ Rollyson, Carl E., and Frank N. Magill. Critical Survey of Drama. Pasadena, CA: Salem, 2003. Print.
  14. ^

    ==


    Rollyson, Carl E., and Frank N. Magill. Critical Survey of Drama. Pasadena, CA: Salem, 2003. Print.
  15. ^


    **

    Rollyson, Carl E., and Frank N. Magill. Critical Survey of Drama. Pasadena, CA: Salem, 2003. Print.
  16. ^


    **

    Kanfer, Stefan. “A Flea in Her Ear.” Academic One File. Accessed May 4,2015. Gale.
  17. ^




    Freydeau,Georges. A Flea in her Ear; a Farce. London: French, 1968.Print.
  18. ^


    **

    Freydeau,Georges. A Flea in her Ear; a Farce. London: French, 1968.Print.
  19. ^




    Kanfer, Stefan. “A Flea in Her Ear.” Academic One File. Accessed May 4,2015. Gale.
  20. ^


    **

    Bassett, Thom. "GoLocalProv | Lifestyle | Theater Review: A Flea in Her Ear at Trinity Rep." GoLocalProv Main. March 31, 2013. Accessed May 05, 2015. http://www.golocalprov.com/lifestyle/theater-review-a-flea-in-her-ear-at-trinity-rep.
  21. ^

    =


    **
    "IBDB.com." A Flea in Her Ear. Accessed May 05, 2015. http://ibdb.com/production.php?id=3458.
  22. ^

    =

    =



    "A Flea in Her Ear." IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 05 May 2015.
  23. ^

    =

    ===


    "A Flea in Her Ear." IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 05 May 2015.
  24. ^

    =

    =


    **
    "La Puce à L'oreille." IMDb. Accessed May 04, 2015. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0475864/