Heavenly wit from the master

Fallen Angels

Malvern Theatres

****

The distinctive, wonderful wit of Noel Coward seeps through every pore of this joyous comedy.

And when your leading ladies are Jenny Seagrove and Sara Crowe, you know the British playwright's work is in safe hands.

Fallen Angels, first performed in 1925, is the Sex and the City of its day. The girlie comedy that broke taboos and was for and about headstrong women.

In this case, it is best friends Julia and Jane, who yearn for the passion of a former French lover to offset their dull marriages.

When news arrives that their Monsieur Maurice will be in town while their husbands are away, they are sent into a whirl of excitement, anticipation and acerbic one-liners that lead to a frothy, fun and chaotic night.

But while they wait for his entrance, the pair get more drunk and more ridiculous, which always makes good viewing.

The humour in this play is as fresh (and perhaps even fresher) as any contemporary sitcom, while the elegance of the 1920s fashions and furniture make it a particularly stylish two hours.

Both Seagrove and Crowe are actresses of great standing and are believable silly and inebriated at various points, which is no mean feat. Whether it's Seagrove rolling head over heels over the sofa or softly belching from too much champagne, it all feels realistic as well as endearing. 

But it's another female member of the cast that ends up stealing the show in the form of know-it-all maid Saunders, played by a wonderfully deadpan Gillian McCafferty. Coward has blessed this character with the funniest lines.

This touring production is Fallen Angels' first revival in over a decade by producer Bill Kenwright after he previously staged the comedy in London's West End with Felicity Kendal and Frances de la Tour. 

And it's good to see this charming play make a return, so catch it while you can. To 07-09-13.

Alison Brinkworth

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