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BWW Preview: Ensemble's Scandelous FALLEN ANGELS

Photo by David Bazemore

It's easy to understand why Noël Coward's Fallen Angels was considered a scandal in the year of its writing. In 1925, a farce about jaded, idle housewives who get drunk while awaiting a visit from an erstwhile lover-in-common did not exemplify the model behavior of a married woman. While indecent in the twenties, Coward's absurd situation comedy delivers potency in the twenty-first century, now that common social opinion of pre-marital relations isn't nearly so damning.

Valued for its comedy and progressiveness nearly a century later, Fallen Angles is no longer considered a lewd portrayal of the modern woman. Instead it's seen as a play that shows women in the early twentieth century beginning to assert themselves beyond the status of an accessory for their husbands. Julia (Paige Lindsey White) and Jane (Julie Granata) are not the frivolous wealthy of the Gatsby fantasy, but working-class wives un-invested in their marriages. After receiving a postcard from a French ex-lover looking for nostalgia, the women eagerly and anxiously anticipate Maurice's (J. Paul Boehmer) arrival. It's unclear which, if either, of the wives will manage an affair with Maurice, especially as they become progressively drunk and wary of each other while they wait. As director Andrew Barnicle points out, a clarifying exchange that elucidates the variances in standards between the genders are the ladies' lamentations that men have the monopoly on sewing wild oats--followed by the realization that indeed they don't; but women have been doing a good job of making them think they do. The Lucy-and-Ethel dynamic of the women's increasingly drunken antics reaches fever pitch when the husbands, blissfully unaware of the infatuated Frenchman and his power over their wives, arrive home from their golfing trip early.

Photo by David Bazemore

Barnicle returns to direct for Ensemble after his successful production of Venus in Fur last June. He's well acquainted with Coward's farces--not only has he directed Private Lives, another of Coward's plays, he also played the role of Willie Banbury in Fallen Angels at the Laguna Playhouse. Barnicle's actors are hand-picked from previous Noël Coward productions, and he's excited to be presenting a cast confident with the particular tone of Coward's humor and timing.

The first Noël Coward play the company has produced in almost 20 years, Executive Artistic Director Jonathan Fox calls Fallen Angels "a sparkling, intelligent comedy." Ensemble's production features Paige Lindsey White, Julie Granata, Matthew Floyd Miller, Joseph Fuqua, Mary Pat Green, and J. Paul Boehmer.

Ensemble Theatre Company Presents:

Fallen Angels
By Noël Coward
Directed by Andrew Barnicle

The New Vic Theater
June 9-26, 2016

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From This Author Maggie Yates