Pros: Jane and Julia having a drunk, jealous go at one another over old flame Maurice. Top points to Jane for storming out in one shoe and with a pineapple in her bag.
Cons: Lovers of New Writing might find this piece a little too old-fashioned.
Fallen Angels, by famous British playwright Noël Coward, reminds me of High Society, the 1956 movie starring Grace Kelly. The play has to make do without the musical numbers, but has the same take on marriage, and has strong female characters with a weakness for champagne, as well as past love stories waiting to be rekindled.
Fallen Angels is a satiric comedy about the lives and hidden affairs of housewives from the thirties. In an elegant and luxurious middle-class apartment in London, Julia (Jenny Seagrove) and her husband Fred (Tim Wallers) are discussing their loveless, although highly functional and happy marriage. Moments later, Julia’s best friend Jane (Sara Crowe), also functionally married to Will (Robin Sebastian), makes a flustered entrance with news of the imminent arrival in London of Maurice. We learn that Maurice is a French Casanova who, fifteen years ago, had a romantic affair with both women (don’t worry, not simultaneously). The old passion resurfaces and they start discussing the best course of action. There are sighs, hysterics, and a number of hot flashes before they decide that the best way to proceed is to wait for Maurice in as much grandeur as they can manage: with an elegant supper of oysters, tempting black dresses and a lot of champagne. I was in hysterics by the end of Act One, when Jane and Julia get ridiculously drunk while waiting for Maurice. Champagne turns into liqueurs, and before you know it they are throwing shoes, and befriending pineapples (it’s the only way I can explain it). Obviously, it all ends in a fight because of their clashing feelings for the same man, and Jane storms off.
Everything about the production oozes elegance; the luxurious apartment is decorated with a massive crystal chandelier, military portraits, and a grand piano. Throughout the intermission, the song You Are My Lucky Star from Singing in the Rain plays overhead, evoking this fancy setting even when the lights were out.
About the cast: Seagrove and Crowe were amazing as Jane and Julia. They had such fantastic chemistry on stage. The characters portrayed complement each other perfectly and above all, they are utterly hilarious to watch. These women are melting inside thinking about their affairs, and they don’t hold back! Seagrove and Crowe crumble and shriek at the very mention of Maurice. The husbands are out of the picture for most of the play, but when they appear Wallers and Sebastian follow suit in their part of clueless partners. Gillian McCafferty plays Saunders, the maid. With her, it’s literally cue on stage, deliver punch line, audience breaks down laughing, and exit. Finally there’s Maurice, played by Philip Battley. I was a little disappointed to meet the character face to face. This is not critique of Battley’s acting at all, but simply the fact that he had been built up so much throughout the play, it was almost platonic.
The venue itself has everything you need to make a special occasion out of going to the theatre: a spacious lounge with sofas, tables and a bar for drinks and snacks. A little tip: the best seats are actually the ones right in front of the stage, where you get a cushion to sit on the floor and are within range of the profiteroles being thrown when Jane and Julia are drunk.
Author: Noël Coward
Director: Roy Marsden
Producer: Bill Kenwright
Box Office: 08444 821 556
Booking Link: http://www.rosetheatrekingston.org/visiting-productions/fallen-angels
Booking Until: 1st February 2014