A fabulous, flirty , flighty and fantastic farce-A flea in her ear- John Mortimer’s version of Feydeaus classic 'Comedy of Errors' shines at the Old Vic directed by Richard Eyre.
The story line is one typical of the comedy of errors genre- in that everything goes wrong so beautifully! The wonderfully loveable yet pompous Monsieur Chanderbise (Tom Hollander) is wrongly accused of infidelity by his suspicious and highly strung wife and her neurotic and highly humorous school friend who decides to write a fairly sexually charged letter on pink and perfumed paper from an admirer (an old fashioned Babooshka) in order to trick Chanderbise. Receiving the letter in delight but confusion he shows the letter to his friend (John Marquez) the fiery Spanish steed and husband of Raymondes school friend, he immediately recognises his wife’s writing and is incensed by her request to meet him at notorious French boudoir hotel comically titled the Hotel Coq d'or . With a series of miscommunications due to notorious lady’s man( Jonathan Cake) , meddlesome maids and the mildly irritating speech impediment of young ( Freddie fox)- all head toward the Coq d'or for revenge, secret love affairs and revelations. They are greeted by a rather camp and fantastically comical ex military proprietor (Lloyd Hutchinson) and his jolly and jovial wife - and the confusion and delirium begin. It’s played here in a beautifully mounting delirium of split-second synchronicities and many misunderstandings; the hilarity is heightened by the wit of Rob Howell's decadent Art Nouveau set which consists of revolving beds and highly crass gold plated furniture. The confusions are increased by the fact that Poche, the hotel's drunken porter, turns out to be the spitting image of the upright Chandebise. In a dual role that involves lightning switches and costume change to show his two identities, the greatly talented Tom Hollander is wonderfully engaging both as the cockney cheeky poche and the rather timid and confused Chanderbise- Poche is mistaken to be Chanderbise and he is declared to be a mad raving drunk by the charmingly devious doctor and devilish lothario (Jonathan Cake).
All performances deliver the correct amount of caricature and enough humour to leave your eyes watering.
A thoroughly enjoyable and deliciously delectable performance.