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BWW Student Center: Being Naughty is So Much Fun at the University of Utah!

Elena Dern as Raymonde Chandebise , Jaten Lee McGriff as Victor Chandebise, and Olivia Vessel as Lucienne

In the upper echelons of high French society, one might expect certain decorum to be present. Which is exactly what you get, a show so busy skirting around sexual innuendos and double entendres with class and respectability that the juxtaposition alone is enough to have the audience rolling with bouts of laughter.

University of Utah's Department of Theatre's production of George Feydeau's A Flea in her Ear (adaptation by David Ives) is a marital farce of epic proportions. Raymonde Chandebise (Elena Dern) suspects that her husband, Victor (Jaten McGriff), is secretly having an affair. With the help of her best friend, Lucienne (Olivia Vessel), she concocts a plan to expose Victor's infidelity. And in typical farce fashion, nothing goes as planned.

Camille Chandebise (Christian Seiter) is the hysterical nephew of Victor who has a speech impediment where he is unable to say the constants in words. Though you were barely able to catch a fraction of what Seiter was saying, he was absolutely brilliant in his comedy.

Having seen several of the actors in other production this year at the U, it was such a treat to see their versatility and talent in the differing roles. McGriff (Vernon God Little) was astounding in the refined role of Victor and Poche. Near the end, I kept expecting to see both characters on the stage at the same time, forgetting that he played both roles. Justin Tsatsa ('Tis Pity She's a Whore) and Mike T. Brown (Geography Club) played the roles of mischievous doctor and eligible womanizer and nearly brought me to tears (of laughter) more than once. And what would the show have been without our charming, yet dubious leading ladies Raymonde (Elena Dern) and Lucienne (Olivia Vessel)!!Elena Dern as Raymonde Chandebise and Olivia Vessel as Lucienne

The direction (L.L. West), staging and pace in the first act only lent to the comedic timing and talent of the actors, coming together in a peak performance at the end of act one. As lights came up at intermission, I was breathless with laughter. Sadly, due to what I consider a weak script, act two fell a little flat. Perhaps the bar had been set too high after an amazing first act, but it slowed down and lost a lot of its momentum. While still funny, jokes didn't land as hard or as often and the story felt a bit contrived for farce sake. Act three certainly picked back up, but still never quite hit the high notes that act one allowed.

Still yet, the show was hysterical! The actors involved are crazy talented and I can't wait to watch them progress in their careers. There is a certain level of quality I have come to expect when attending productions by the U's Department of Theatre and they haven't let me down yet. I certainly consider them one of my favorite theaters in the area. And with tickets being only $15, you would be hard pressed to find a better bang for your buck!

A Flea in Her Ear is running through Sunday, February 10, 2013 at The Babcock Theatre, located at 300 South and University Street (1400 East) in the Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, lower level. Tickets can be obtained by calling 801-581-7100; online at; or at the Performing Arts Box Office, located at Kingsbury Hall.

Photo Credits: Spencer Sandstrom

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