Infidelity Has Never Been So Humorous

Allison Rhodes

Audiences at Rider University will be left aching from laughter after seeing Georges Feydeau’s A Flea in Her Ear. This chaotic comedy features quarrelling couples, who rapidly exchange lovers through a series of unusual events and more than one case of mistaken identity.

Set in France at the turn of the century, this bedroom farce is full of risqué humor and nonstop fun. A farce is a lighthearted comedy that centers on ridiculous and absurd situations. It is a genre that the director, Carter Gill, is familiar with. Gill initially came to Rider as a visitor, when he was invited to do a master class about comedy. He has since become an adjunct professor and a valued member of our community. He directed his first show here, Molière’s A Doctor in Spite of Himself, in 2014.

A Flea in Her Ear is Gill’s third Rider production, and he cites it as one of the best ever written. “This is historically one of the greatest farces. Feydeau wrote over 70 plays, with around 26 commercial hits,” he says. “This was one of his biggest successes. It truly set the stage for a lot of comedies that followed it.”

Considered revolutionary when it was first staged, A Flea in Her Ear still manages to excite contemporary audiences. This version of the play, commissioned by the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, was adapted by David Ives in 2006.

The play opens with Raymonde Chandebise suspecting her husband of infidelity, so she decides to make him believe she is cheating on him. This triggers a series of hijinks and comical misfortune. The wackier things on stage get, the more fun the audience is sure to have.

“I would describe it as a fast paced, very fun show. It’s not deep. It’s not intense. It’s not a thinker. If you come to see it, you’ll have so much fun,” says Gill. “There are a lot of jokes that are specific to Rider, and there are a lot of jokes that are specific to college students in general.”

Gill describes the show as “dangerous and chaotic." He believes the nature of comedy to be very liberating for actors, and he has always been impressed with the actors he works with at Rider. “They’re always ready to trust me and they trust each other. The comradery that exists here is unlike any other school that I’ve worked at. This school has the strongest sense of ensemble; everybody seems like they want to lift each other up. I love working with that sense of community.”

He hopes audiences leave the theater smiling, “I want them to leave feeling like they had fun for two hours. Hopefully, they just were entertained and had a whole bunch of fun. I want them to leave with some kind of liberation about sex. This play is about sex. It’s about the stiffness and taboo around talking about it. It’s very sex positive show.”

A Flea in Her Ear debuts at the Bart Luedeke Center theater in a preview performance on Wednesday, April 4. Tickets for this performance will be sold at the door, for $9 each. The show runs from Thursday, April 5, through Sunday, April 8. Students with a valid Rider id can purchase tickets for $5. Admission for adults is $20, and it is $15 for seniors and Non-Rider students. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 609-896-7775.