Theater: ‘Fallen Angels’ provide laughs in romp about love and longing at North Coast Rep


Director Rosina Reynolds reveals keen intuition into the hearts of Noël Coward’s two “Fallen Angels.”

Playing at the North Coast Repertory Theatre through Sept. 28, the adult comedy, which debuted in London in 1925, is still delicious and delightful.

We meet Julia (Joanna Strapp) and her husband, Fred (Thomas Stephen Miller), cuddling up in their British home as she tries to get him to agree that although they love each other, they are not in love with each other.

Men being men, Fred has no idea what she’s getting at, and is anxious to go golfing with his pal, Willie (Jason Maddy). Interrupting the couple’s conversation is their new maid, Saunders (Jacquelyn Ritz), who claims to have done and know everything — including what clubs Fred should use on the course (just his irons).

While the guys are golfing, Fred’s wife (Julia’s best friend Jane) stops by to give Julia some startling news. The amorous Frenchman, Maurice — a lover to them both before they were married — is in to town for a visit. The girls are scared, anxious and giddy all at once. They begin plowing through every alcoholic beverage in Julia’s home and before long are totally schnockered.

They steal the show with slapstick antics — Strapp’s willowy body barely able to land on the couch or a chair, and Spiro’s dynamite retorts that make no sense, but bring gales of laughter about the maid’s advice on everything.

Soon they are arguing over which of them ex-lover Maurice would want most. Their sparring is on par with the likes of Carol Brunett and Vickie Lawrence; Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau; Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance (Ethel).

Of course the tension builds as the girls wait to see if Maurice (Richard Baird) will really show up. And if so, what will they tell their husbands?

Miller and Maddy as the clueless husbands do their best to add a comic demeanor to their one-dimensional characters, even after they discover the scandalous secret of their wives.

Ritz does a splendid job as the maid who doesn’t miss any laughs from the audience with her pragmatic, unemotional busybody insertions into the other characters’ conversations.

The set design by Marty Burnett and the jazzy music providing the backdrop to the merriment would make Noël Coward proud of everyone and everything in this production.

It takes real artists to bring someone’s words to life and this show is proof the North Coast Repertory Theatre is a true contender in the entertainment field.

• IF YOU GO: “Fallen Angels” play Sept. 3-28, 2014 at North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach. Tickets from $41 (seniors/students and military save $3 with I.D.) (858) 481-1055.