The latest production from Jewel Theatre Company is as light and bubbly as the champagne the characters quaff incessantly onstage. For the company's second offering at their new home, the Colligan Theater at the Tannery, Artistic Director Julie James has chosen Noel Coward's crowd-pleasing farce, Fallen Angels.
The play's subject matter—that women might be capable of having sexual lives outside of marriage—was considered quite racy in its day. Even though its day was 1925, smack in the middle of the postwar, anything-goes Jazz Age, when sexuality was obviously a fact of life, it was still not something usually discussed onstage.
But Coward got away with it with his trademark wit and grace by not depicting an affair, but its aftermath, providing wry commentary on what happens when the wild past of two proper, married English ladies comes back to haunt—and entice—them.
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The production is directed by Art Manke, veteran of both Santa Cruz Shakespeare (last summer's hilarious The Liar), and JTC (the equally hilarious What The Butler Saw).
Manke has also directed nine productions of Coward's work, and it shows in the fleet pacing and style he brings to this vivacious show. His Fallen Angels combines elements of the cult TV hit, Absolutely Fabulous—with its two dizzy, champers-swilling girlfriends—with plenty of 1920s chic.
Julia (Nike Doukas) has been happily married to Fred (Kit Wilder) for five years. On the morning Fred is leaving on an overnight golfing trip, they congratulate themselves that they still love each other, but they are no longer subject to the rash throes of being in love.
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Desperate to keep their youthful indiscretions secret from their husbands, the ladies also fear that now that their marriages have become so settled, they won't be able to resist the Frenchman's charms.
Special kudos to longtime JTC diva Diana Torres Koss' scene-stealing turn as Julia's ferociously competent new maid. She's a riot throughout, sneaking over to the piano when no one else is about, entertaining the audience between scenes.
She brings a little extra fizz to Coward's sparkling cocktail. (Read more)