NOEL Coward’s hilarious play Fallen Angels, on an eight-venue UK tour, has an extended run at Bath Theatre Royal until 1st March, and is the perfect antidote to the doom and gloom of persistent rain and wind.
Written in a time of creative ferment, while The Master was performing in the West End AND writing his controversial The Vortex, Fallen Angels appalled the critics and delighted the audience.
This is the story of two respectable wives with a shared guilty secret – affairs with a suave and enchanting Frenchman before their marriages to dull, essentially pompous English men.
Now Julia lives two floors down in an elegant London apartment from her old friend Jane, and on one fateful day, both women receive postcards from their former lover.
Should they decamp, while their husbands are off playing golf? Should they stay and face the possibility of a rekindling of their passions? And if the latter, will their friendship survive?
This was shocking stuff in the mid 1920s, decried by the (male) critics who saw it as debauched and demeaning, but filling the theatres with the between-the-wars audiences keen for a good laugh.
And the laughter has remained intact even though the moral climate has changed more even than the most doom-laden claims for the weather’s effects.
Roy Marsden directs Bill Kenwright’s current tour, beautifully designed by Paul Farnsworth, and the cancellation of Chariots of Fire meant the show could have an extra week in Bath.
It’s hard to imagine two more perfect performances for the central roles than those of Jenny Seagrove and her friend Sara Crowe. Their lengthy drunken scene itself is worth the price of the ticket.
If Tim Wallers and Robin Sebastian have fewer opportunities as their husbands, they do them no less well.
And Gillian McCafferty is the wonderfully all knowing housekeeper Saunders.
Fallen Angels paves the way for Coward’s comic masterpieces, with its incisive wit and skillfully observed human nature.
If you want an entertaining night at the theatre, you won’t do better than this.