Two men came back during intermission comparing notes about drunk women and not in the nasty frat boy panty-peeling context. This conversation centered more on the loss of dignity. Certainly trying to navigate a room or sidewalk in high heels isn't easy when you're inebriated. Most of the fun of Noel Coward's "Fallen Angels" at the Pasadena Playhouse comes when two lovely and respectable married women get increasingly drunk and unreasonable while trying to be elegant as they wait for the appearance of a certain someone.
Under the direction of Art Manke, the action is a tad slow in the beginning when we meet Julia Sterroll (Pamela J. Gray) as she breakfasts with her husband of five years, Fred (Mike Ryan). These are the kind of folk who dress for the morning meal. She's in a flowing paisley jumpsuit with a shrug the features extravagantly long sleeves. Fred is about to go golfing with Willy (Loren Lester) and is attired in the kind of plaid pants that might have been fashionable on the golf course, but it's doubtful. Julia and Fred have fallen out of love and into a comfortable companionship gray haze, without drama and grand passion.
The most amusing bits here are provided by the new maid, Saunders (Mary-Pat Green) who has a treasure trove of experience.
Willy's wife, Jane (Katie MacNichol), and Julia have been friends since they were eight and nine, respectively. During that time, they shared a lot, including one particularly French lover, Maurie Duclos (Elijah Alexander). This was before they were married, seven years ago to be exact. On this particular morning, both ladies receive a postcard from Maurice, informing them he's in town and wishes to see both of them.
In 1925, when this play debuted, it was considered scandalous. Good women became good wives and good women didn't have mad, passionate flings with foreign lovers before marriage even if their husbands did before or during. Women at least pretended to be virgins before marriage and the double standard was an accepted part of life in England and America. So you'll have to dial your mental time machine back a few decades, before you might have even been born or even before your parents. Don't make a fuss. If Dr. Who can do it weekly and Marty McFly can do it to save his family, you don't need a blue British police box (TARDIS) or Delorean to get there.
Once there, you'll get into the spirit of Julia and Jane's despair--both at the mundane grayness of their married lives (With a name that's a homophone for sterile, what do you expect?) and the prospect of their respectability being destroyed. Yet then, there's vanity. If pride goeth before the fall, then when vanity is lubricated by liquor, elegance goeth before the drunken ladies fall.
These ladies attempt to be "caught" in casual elegance by Maurice, but end the night rip-roaring drunk. Our "Fallen Angels" are fabulously funny. Gray's Julia is indignant and full of bluster while MacNichol's Jane allows some underlying bitterness to surface. Their gorgeous flapper glamour (by costume designer David K. Mickelsen) becomes comically incongruent with their woozy state.
As Maurice, Alexander doesn't disappoint and the last scenes don't suggest continued fidelity. As this show runs through the month devoted to romantic love, you might want to take that into consideration before you peg this as a date night show. If you love watching the well-mannered getting unmannerly though, then this production is for you.