Fallen Angels

Previewed 17 October 2000, Opened 25 October 2000, Closed 17 April 2001 at the Apollo Theatre

A major revival of Noel Coward's sophisticated comedy Fallen Angels in London starring Felicity Kendal and Frances de la Tour

Julia and Jane are long time friends and have much in common... both are in companionable but staid marriages, and each has had an affair with charming Frenchman Maurice. When old flame Maurice travels back to London, Julia and Jane are torn between the thirst for passion that he represents and fear for the stability of their marriages. Worse still, both women suspects the other is scheming to see him in secret. An evening of frenzied, tipsy anticipation culminates in Maurice's arrival... and the return of the husbands.

The cast features Felicity Kendal as 'Julia' and Frances de la Tour as 'Jane' with Stephen Greif as 'Maurice', James Woolley as 'Fred', Eric Carte as 'Willy' and Tilly Tremayne as 'Saunders'. Directed by Michael Rudman with designs by Paul Farnsworth and lighting by Nick Richings. Felicity Kendal's credits include Mind Millie For Me at the Haymarket Theatre in 1996.

"It is a mark of the strength of this beautifully constructed little play that, long after it has lost the power to shock, it retains all its comic freshness... The core of the play is the extraordinary second act where the two women get spectacularly sozzled. This is where lesser Fallen Angels have fallen. Actors playing drunk can be dull as a drunk playing a drunk, but director Michael Rudman's version is a masterpiece of control... The kittenish Kendal descends innto drunkenness with perfect deportment, while De la Tour is louche and sensual, filling the stage with every movement of her expressive body. Fallen Angels is known as a battleground for jealous rivals eager to upstage each other. That Kendal is utterly outdone here is no reflection on her own performance - nobody would have a chance against the electrifying De la Tour. But the chemistry between them works, and the fact that one half is greater than the other simply increases the size of the whole." The Daily Express

"The play does not even need the updating Coward gave it in the 1950s, though the garrulous comic maid he added is more amusing and more purposeful than most comic maids, since she’s spent a life so packed with interesting and significant incident it emphasises the frivolity of Kendal’s Julia and de la Tour's Jane. But how gorgeously, impishly, hilariously frivolous they both turn out to be. In the first act their two earnestly English husbands exit for a weekend on the links, leaving Julia and Jane to agree that their lives consist of 'complete happiness and tranquillity devoid of violent emotions of any kind with the possible exception of golf'... The once-infamous second act has lost its sting, but it can never have been funnier than in Michael Rudman’s production. Under the influence of martinis and champagne the friends get mawkish, then quarrelsome, and, as often in Coward, begin to resemble two sticky-fingered infants bickering over the possession of some pet: a newt perhaps or, as here, a frog. It’s hard to believe this is the first time Kendal and de la Tour have acted together. Their effortless rapport is a delight. Individually, they’re excellent too." The Times

"My only real regret about Fallen Angels is that it wasn't put on last year, when the main productions marking Noel Coward's centenary were a lifeless Private Lives and an all-too-feverish Hay Fever. This time they have got it right. The director, Michael Rudman, has caught the spirit of the piece, and the cast take full and finely judged advantage of their opportunities... The drunk scene is what made the play notorious when it was first staged in 1925, and it has been performed by some accomplished double-acts since then, but it can surely never have been executed more adroitly than it is here. Kendal and de la Tour are nicely contrasted, for a start - one bright and perky; the other hungry-looking and potentially tragic, with a Hermia-and-Helena disparity in heights to underline the joke... Fallen Angels presupposes, daringly for 1925, that women have as much right to their fun as men. Beyond that, it doesn't teach anything, doesn't preach anything and doesn't prove anything. It is simply - and that's a great deal - a highly successful light comedy." The Sunday Telegraph

Fallen Angels in London at the Apollo Theatre previewed from 17 October 2000, opened on 25 October 2000 and closed on 17 April 2001