Afternoon in the drawing room of the Chandebise house on the Boulevard Malesherbes, 8th arrondissement, Paris. The lady of the house, Raymonde Chandebise, suspects that her husband, Victor Emmanuel, is having an affair, since he has become sexually uninterested in her.
Raymonde confides in her best friend, Lucienne, who comes up with a plan to test him. She writes a letter from an anonymous admirer telling Victor Emmanuel to meet her that night at the Snatch Time Hotel – a place renowned for its depravity.
Victor Emmanuel arrives home and, in an awkward conversation with his doctor, confides the real reason for his sudden sexual subsidence.
Raymonde and Lucienne have their letter delivered to Victor Emmanuel and head to the Hotel to confront him. Their plan goes awry when Victor Emmanuel assumes the letter must actually be for his handsome bachelor friend, Marcel Tournel, and sends him in his stead.
Unfortunately, he also makes the mistake of showing the letter to Lucienne’s husband, Don Carlos Homenides de Histangua, who recognises his wife’s handwriting and heads to the Snatch Time Hotel in a jealous, Spanish rage.
Meanwhile, Camille Chandebise, Victor Emmanuel’s cousin, heads to Snatch Time to consummate his affair with the wife of the household’s butler, Antoinette.
Evening at the Snatch Time Hotel. The proprietors, August and Olympe, prepare the rooms for a busy night. They have recently taken on two new staff members: a maid, Eugenie, and a porter, Poche, who by an amazing coincidence is the spitting image – the doppelgänger if you like – of Victor Emmanuel Chandebise.
So when Victor, with his butler for reinforcement, arrives at the hotel to warn Lucienne that her husband is on his way, things get very confusing. Tournel and Raymonde are there, caught in a compromising situation, Camille and Antoinette likewise, Lucienne narrowly escapes with her life, and none of them can tell the difference between Victor and the Hotel’s porter.
Back at the Chandebise house, the members of the household regroup to try to make sense of events at the hotel. Antoinette manages to wriggle out of her husband’s accusations, but Raymonde, Tournel and Lucienne have a harder time of it when both Victor and Poche the porter arrive at the family residence. They are followed by other staff from the hotel and their bourgeois propriety is plunged into greater depths of confusion and disarray before the truth finally emerges.
This synopsis is part of the program for A Flea in Her Ear, which also features:
- notes from writer Andrew Upton and director Simon Phillips
- a profile of writer Georges Feydeau
- costume design illustrations by Gabriela Tylesova
- biographies and photos of the cast and crew
- photos from the rehearsal room
- and much more!
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A Flea in Her Ear, 31 Oct – 17 Dec 2016, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House
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