Georges Feydeau’s 1907 play, “A Flea In Her Ear,” will have another revival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines through an adaptation which transports the setting from Paris to Manila.
Earlier translated and adapted by Virgilio “Beer” Flores, who writes for television, the revival is titled “Baka Naman Hindi,” with Dennis Marasigan directing a cast led by Ricky Davao, Rina Reyes, Lou Veloso and Rafa Siguion Reyna.
By coincidence, it was the play first staged at CCP in the early ’70s with a distinguished cast headed by Vic Silayan and Charlie Davao, with a young Marilou Diaz-Abaya playing one of the maids.
The director then was today’s CCP president Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso, who was active in theater at the time.
Lizaso cast Ricky Davao for one reason: “Not only is he a proven good actor in any genre, this play is also memorable for him for it was the very first production he saw in his youth, and it also had his father (the late Charlie Davao) in the cast.
“Once we secured Ricky’s participation, we had to assemble a company that will not only look right along with him but can also match his comedic talents. I am happy we have the actors in the cast, all of whom are outstanding actors and many of whom have been rewarded with awards and distinctions for their work in theater, film and television.”
Davao recalled how “A Flea in Her Ear” was the first play he ever saw at age 13, and how watching his dad and Bernardo Bernardo in it fueled his desire to be an actor.
Marasigan told Lifestyle Theater that the CCP president invited him to direct the play with a new cast—“Having come across the play as an epitome of farce during my years of study of the theater, it was an offer I could not resist.”
In this age of political uncertainty and skyrocketing prices, what new insights can CCP come up with in a play where wives are restless and suspicious and husbands go through temporary impotence and characters are preoccupied with self-gratification, with sex and revenge thrown in, while others cling to a flimsy façade of decency and honor?
Marasigan says he can connect very well with the French playwright, being a playwright himself. “Feydeau, who is most famous to foreign audiences, is associated with farce. This play can be considered as having inspired other playwrights to create similarly themed materials, such as Ken Ludwig’s ‘Lend Me a Tenor’ and ‘Comedy of Tenors,’ Michael Frayn’s ‘Noises Off,’ and possibly even Julian Cruz Balmaceda’s ‘Sino Ba Kayo’ and Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero’s ‘Wanted: A Chaperone.’
“Among the characteristics of farce is the plot, and ‘A Flea in Her Ear’ is among the best examples of the ‘door-slamming’ or the mistaken-identity variety. And we all need a little laugh sometimes. As a director, I intend to entice new audiences to the theater through this production, while also drawing in regular theater-goers who may be familiar with the play itself or other plays similar to or inspired by it.”
Marasigan considers it a primary challenge in every play to be true to the playwright’s intentions. “In this play, it is to entertain the audience and make them laugh. We hope that the actors will be able to do so while keeping a straight face themselves. Thus far, they have been the first ones to laugh during rehearsals.”
Isn’t it true that many things are sacrificed in the process of translation?
“I agree, which is why we have chosen to adapt the play to a Filipino setting, in the hope that while some things may be lost, others may be gained in the transposition. The more important thing would be to try and reach a wider audience for the theater, particularly for theater classics, whether they be in their original language or in translation. It stands to reason that this play, having been first written in French, might be better appreciated in a Filipino translation or adaptation.”
“Baka Naman Hindi,” starring Ricky Davao, Rina Reyes, Lou Veloso, Rafa Siguion Reyna, Nelsito Gomez, Nazer Salcedo, Tex Ordonez de Leon, Mosang, Raffy Tejada, Gilleth Sandico, Anthony Falcon, Jef Henson Dy, Felipe Ronnie Martinez and Wenah Nagales, runs at CCP Little Theater Oct. 18-21, 8 p.m., and Oct. 20-21, 3 p.m. Set design by Ohm David, costume design by James Reyes, sound design by TJ Ramos and Dennis Marasigan as lighting designer and director. Call CCP Box Office at 8323704 or TicketWorld 8919999.