Tory Ross in the role of Saunders, the maid, steals the show in Noel Coward’s “Fallen Angels”, a comedy with wit, flamboyance, fashion, and style. Sarah Overman and Rebecca Dines as wives Julia Sterroll and Jane Banbury were hilarious and their husbands Fred Sterroll and Willy Banbury (Mark Anderson Phillips and Cassidy Brown) were fabulous as low key, passionless British husbands who seemed to be more interested in golf than their wives. However, the story line seemed to be lacking in depth and substance. While the husbands are away, notice of impending arrival of Maurice Duclos (Aldo Billingslea), with whom both Jane and Julia had a premarital affair, is the primary focus point around which the play is centered.
Originally when the play opened in 1925, the audience found it entertaining, yet also shocking, given the provocative theme of young married women becoming giggly, drunk, and week at the knees, in eager anticipation of the rendezvous with their former lover. However, for the audience of today, for someone like me, the first act seemed too drawn out, the story was not developing further, and felt like it was all much ado about nothing. To the extent that the audience can identify with couples in many conventional relationships, devoid of passion, it was amusing, but lost the charm when it went on for too long.
The performance picks up pace and becomes far more engaging by the second act. As is always the case at Theatreworks, the staging and light and sound were superb. Special mention to Fumiko Bielefeldt for superb costume design that befits the era and also reflects the high class fashion and style of the British upper middle class. Ross gets the biggest laughs as know-it-all maid, in this comedy. However, it falls short of goals of an engaging witty comedy. Although Coward uses paradox, similar to Oscar Wilde, the remarks don’t quite measure up to that level of depth, perception or electricity. Although it generates laughs, it never quite generates rip roaring infectious laughter.
For tickets for “Fallen Angels”, got to www.theatreworks.org .