Theater Schmeater has a hit on their hands. “Fallen Angels”, the satirical society comedy by Noel Coward is funny, hilarious many times, the actors are all right on pitch, and the set is a treat. In a farce like this one, timing is the critical factor because if the director is just a little bit off, it’s bland and boring. But director Corey McDaniel, and the actors do it right!
It’s gentle production with only six actors: two couples, Julia and Fred Sterroll (Marianna de Fazio and Tim Moore) and Jane and Willie Banbury (Sara Trowbridge and James Weidman), Maurice Duclos (Ashley Bagwell), the French former lover of both wives, all with very fond memories of Venice seven years ago, and Saunders (Erin Stewart), the maid and authority on all matters golf, food, and music. “It’s supposed to be a b natural, madam”, she chidingly tells Julia as she's playing the piano and goes over to show her.
All the action takes place in the exquisite set by Michael Mowery. The grayed-green walls and crisp white trim detailing, the Duncan Fyfe dining set, the Georgian side table, a framed window with bench and the other furniture are beautiful. You’d think you were in a sitting room of a 1920s middle-class couple in England. I was frankly surprised to see such a detailed set in a smaller theater, but they sure showed me! This was a very well done setting. I noticed in the program’s “Thanks to…” box, both ACT and Seattle Repertory helped; maybe that explains some of the elegant furniture.
The evening dress that Jane wears is absolutely beautiful. It’s black with white embroidery and beading down the front and around the hem in the back, ending in a gorgeous handkerchief hem. It fit her so well and her fetching dark eyes looked as big as salad plates. But Julia’s clothes just did not fit her. In act one, her vermillion blouse was way too big and her trousers ended in wrinkled hems; however my granddaughter and I really liked her golden belt. Her evening dress was good but the next morning she looked like her blouse had been constructed on her, but not well.
The men’s trousers had strange high hems, perhaps to be plus fours, the golfing attire of the day, but they didn’t have elastic to pull them in just below the knees. But their argyle socks certainly had spunk.
Jane and Julia have known each other since their school days and it’s the same for Fred and Willie. The action opens in the Sterroll apartment where Julia and Fred are having breakfast. Fred and Jane talk over the day ahead, mildly gossiping while being served by Saunders, the recently hired maid. After the meal Fred and Willy are going out of town for an overnight golfing trip; Jane and Julia are going to do some shopping. Saunders bustles in and out, inserting comments that her former employer, a championship golfer, wouldn’t take his woods to that course.
After Fred and Willie leave Julia and Jane have a good gossip about Maurice, supposedly in London. They each chivy and try to turn the other against the idea of looking up Maurice, but the’re all aflutter just thinking about him.
They both met him in Venice seven years ago, two years before they each married. They fondly remember all that he meant to them – Maurice was the romantic lover of their lives. Jane and Julia decide to meet back at Julia’s for dinner, to they make plans to find Maurice. They chide each other for intimating that they’d cheat on their husbands, but admit that romantic love is not there anymore. Julia sums it all up: “It’s so unfair that men have a monopoly on wild oats!”
They decide to meet for dinner at Julia’s to plan a course of action. Of course, Jane and Julia dress for dinner, as any society woman would. When Jane arrives, Julia lets it drop that Maurice called her while she was dressing. She is so excited to think they could meet. Both women’s aroused sensibilities and romantic hopes keep them having “Another bottle of champagne, Saunders!”, until they are both drunk. They threaten and push each other around, each claiming that Maurice loved her best, until finally Jane loses her balance and falls behind the couch. They are appalled at the realization of what they’ve done to each other and pledge eternal love. Jane finally shouts, “You and Willie and Fred can go straight to hell!” Jane staggers home to bed, and Julia goes to her bed.
The next morning, Julia is having breakfast, in dark glasses and unkempt hair. Fred comes home early because he and Willie had a Bertie Wooster spat and he couldn’t stand to stay with him. Willie comes over looking for Jane. Apparently she hasn’t come home yet. Julia lets a remark slip about Maurice being in town. Willie is appalled. “Then it’s true. She’s run off with that Frenchman! If she hasn’t found him, she’s probably roaming the streets . . .” About that time Jane comes staggering in, truly unkempt. She couldn’t make it home so she stayed in a hotel. Maurice comes to call; he’s been staying in the apartment upstairs for a year. He states that the husbands perhaps take their wives a little bit for granted. Everyone acknowledges the truth in all the situations and Maurice is leaving town.
“Fallen Angels” runs until December 15 at Theater Schmeater at 1500 Summit Ave, Seattle. Call them for tickets and information at 206-324-5801 or go to the webpage www.schmeater.org.