Playwright Noël Coward penned a 1920s risqué comedy. Coward tells the tale of two couples. When the husbands go away on a golf outing, the wives plot a sexy tryst with a former lover. In Coward’s day, this subject matter must have been scandalous. Ladies having premarital sex. Oh my! Not with their betrothed. Uh-oh! And now they want to reunite for an extramarital affair. Oh no she didn’t! Although the latter part still is fairly taboo, a sex life pre-husband isn’t shocking. Coward’s premise in less capable hands might lose its original luster. Under the masterful direction of Shannon Cochran, Coward’s bawdy wit turns into a frolicking romp. This comedy sparkles like a silver heirloom polished to perfection.
Cochran establishes the Roaring 20s with playful posh. Emjoy Gavino (Julia) and Fred Geyer (Fred) glide and step on to the stage. After a stylized dance entrance, they flop into their marital routine. Their conversation is droll and riddled with sophisticated barbs from Gavino. With razor-sharp timing and a refined tongue, Gavino delivers her jabs for pure comedy gold. She lingers over a word or a name with wicked grandeur.
The show focuses primarily on the madcap antics of Gavino and Eliza Stoughton (Jane). Imagine if Lucy and Ethel donned gorgeous flapper dresses (Costume Designer Janice Pytel) and got rip-roaring drunk. Gavino and Stoughton are hilarious! They talk dreamily of hooking up with Maurice, a romantic French man. They share this mutual fantasy over martinis, champagne, and later cordials. Every call or knock brings slapstick humor. As the gals go from tipsy to blotto, jealousy emerges as they try to determine who Maurice really wants. Coward’s repartee get the burlesque treatment. Gavino and Stoughton both do physical comedy like they are tanked on liquid courage. They fearlessly fall off pianos and skate across the floor on an ottoman.
Part of their ongoing shenanigans is keeping the maid in the dark about their naughty plans. Annabel Armour (Saunders) adds heaps of humor as a know-it-all servant with boundary issues. Armour, in a heavy Scottish brogue, bullies Geyer about his choice of golf clubs. She sings along with Gavino. And she elaborately prances around the flat decorating. Armour zings each scene she’s in either by verbalizing a pompous factoid or silently rolling up her sleeves. At one point, she and a hungover Gavino do a lively dance that includes Armour carrying Gavino across the floor on her back. The whole show is light-hearted moments of elegant fun.
FALLEN ANGELS is how classy people misbehave. These high-class ladies get wasted and try to get laid. The chic hijinks are highly amusing. FALLEN ANGELS is a light-frothy escape back to the 1920s. It’s a wonderful respite from contemporary holiday pressure.
Running Time: Two hours with one intermission
At Greenhouse Theatre, 2257 N. Lincoln
Written by Noël Coward
Directed by Shannon Cochran
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 2:30pm
At 7:30pm on December 16th, 23rd, 30th and January 6th
At 2:30pm on December 12th, 24th, 26th, 31st
Thru January 10th
For tickets, visit www.remybumppo.org
Production photo by Johnny Knight
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