Manners and tawdry secrets collide at Theater Schmeater with their current production of Noel Coward's "Fallen Angels". And Coward's signature send-up of the upper crust combined with some stunning characterizations and timing from the cast add up to one delightfully funny and slightly naughty evening.
OK, so maybe it's actually fairly tame by today's standards, but I'm sure back in 1925 when the play first appeared it was positively ribald as we delve into the marriages and past lovers of two "happily" married socialites. Julia and Jane (Marianna de Fazio and Sara Trowbridge) spend their days dealing with servants and keeping nice homes for their slightly out of touch, golf playing husbands Fred and Willy (Tim Moore and James Weidman). But when the suave Frenchman Maurice (Ashley Bagwell), whom both of the ladies had torrid affairs with prior to their marriages, sends word that he's back in town, the news sends the ladies into a tailspin of confusion, longing and expectations coupled with too much booze.
Director Corey McDaniel has taken this already funny play and turned the hilarity up to 11 by casting some comedy powerhouses and ensuring the pacing remains at a breakneck speed, which Coward's plays demand. Moore and Weidman are wonderful as the dimwitted husbands. Moore's facial expressions and blustering indignations are priceless as are Weidman's naïve incredulity. And Bagwell manages a magnificent devil may care rogue as Maurice even though he's on stage for very little. But this play is all about the ladies and the ladies completely run away with it. Trowbridge and de Fazio each show off genius level comedic timing and are perfectly matched for each other. Whether hurling venom one minute and flattery the next toward each other, managing some insanely funny and perfectly choreographed pratfalls, or shifting the focus of their superiority toward the new maid Saunders (Erin Stewart), the two women make a feast of laughter out of every moment on stage. And I have to say the drunken arc of Act Two alone is worth the price of admission. Oh and speaking of Stewart, if Trowbridge and de Fazio didn't have a firm grasp on the play, Stewart would have easily walked off with it. In what could be a throw away part she turns in a singularly hysterical performance as the quirky and overly loquacious maid who's apparently done and seen everything over her career. Complete with some brilliant physicality and a somewhat not all there expression, Stewart only adds to the already side splitting evening. Like I said, this play is all about the ladies.
With a gorgeously posh set from Michael Mowery and lovely costumes from Julia Evanovich, "Fallen Angels" is nothing short of a banquet of fabulousness for an evening. Check your manners at the door, have a drink or seven, and be sure to catch this one. It's pure comedy gold.
"Fallen Angels" plays at Theater Schmeater through December 15th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.schmeater.org.
Photo credit: Dave Hastings