MSQ Review: Fallen Angels – Pasadena Playhouse
Move over, Edina and Patsy. There’s another absolutely fabulous pair of women in town
Move over, Edina and Patsy. There’s another absolutely fabulous pair of women making us laugh ourselves silly. Actually, you don’t need to move over. Just acknowledge that without Noel Coward’s uproariously funny Fallen Angels, you wouldn’t have been created.
Julia Sterroll (Pamela J. Gray) and Jane Banbury (Katie MacNichol) have been married to their husbands Fred (Mike Ryan) and Willy (Loren Lester) for a number of years. Though the passion of those first few years has waned, they remain happily married. When the men go out of town for a golf game the girls spend the evening in Julia’s London flat discussing the affairs each had before they were married. One of their former paramours, seductive Frenchman Maurice Duclos (Elijah Alexander), is back in town and the temptation – not to mention the competition between the two women – is palpable.
In order for Fallen Angels to work, the two women have to possess razor sharp comedic timing. Even when things get a little slapstick it has to be grounded in reality. Thankfully, Ms. Gray and Ms. MacNichol are so good that you're bound to be swept up in the lunacy of their lies and schemes. Rarely has being drunk been as much fun as it is here. The physicality of their work approaches that of Lucille Ball.
Director Art Manke makes sure that the men are not mere wallflowers. In Mr. Lester and Mr. Ryan he has two fine actors who help make the absurdity of the second act seem real. When Mr. Duclos finally appears, Mr. Alexander is appropriately, well, French. Mary-Pat Green plays the role of the Sterrolls' new maid, Saunders, so wonderfully she comes close to stealing the show.
When Fallen Angels first premiered in 1927, it was considered scandalous in its depiction of women who weren’t virgins when they got married and who openly discussed having prior relationships. Today, of course, that seems tame. But Mr. Coward’s quick wit is as finely honed here as in any of his plays, and it never feels dated.
I only have one complaint with Fallen Angels. It ends. I so thoroughly enjoyed this show and these performances. This is pure entertainment. Don’t miss it, sweeties.