Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Saturday, May 25

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Unlike Scrooge, Goodman's A Christmas Carol Never Gets Old Just Pretty: Broadway in Chicago's Production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical »

Review Mon Dec 07 2015

Remy Bumppo Mixes a Cocktail of 1920s Fun, Fashion & Sly Comedy in Fallen Angels

Fallen Angels
Armour, Stoughton and Gavino. Photo by Johnny Knight.

In staging Noel Coward's 1920s comedy, Fallen Angels, director Shannon Cochran has shaken it up and mixed a cocktail of '20s fun and fashion with a wink of sly gender role reversal.

Remy Bumppo's new production runs almost two hours but the time will fly as you try to keep up with the antics of Julia (Emjoy Gavino) and Jane (Eliza Stoughton), two English housewives anticipating a reunion with Maurice (Joshua Moaney), the French charmer with whom they both had "very intimate relations" before marriage. (As an aside, I wish Maurice had appeared earlier in the story so I would have had more time to appreciate his suave fashion, language and footwork.)

Fallen Angels was considered scandalous when it was first produced. In the 1920s, women certainly would not have had extracurricular affairs, let alone talk about them. When Julia and Jane learn that Maurice will visit London to see both of them, they are giddy with anticipation. They put on their evening gowns and dancing shoes, chill the champagne and wait for Maurice. Unfortunately, while waiting they drink too much champagne, get tipsy, then frolic and finally fight in Julia's living room. From beginning to end, their activities are served by Saunders, the maid, played with straight-faced impudence by Annabel Armour. Saunders, it seems, has a great deal of experience in most every aspect of life and doesn't hesitate to explain how life should be managed.

The men in the story all have small roles. Julia's husband Willy (Jesse Dornan) and Jane's husband Fred (Fred Geyer) appear early in the first act and in the second act to express indignation upon their wives' activities. Maurice, of course, makes a brief but spectacular appearance near the end of the second act. Coward was definitely defying theatrical custom by creating two leading lady roles and relegating the male characters to minor players. The character of Saunders was originally a smaller, more typical serving maid, but Coward expanded it to a prominent role in his 1950 revision of the script.

Cochran's direction is outstanding. She choreographs Gavino's and Stoughton's party with style and comic touches. During dinner, after many glasses of champagne, Jane forks up her whole beef tournedos and chews off a piece. Later, standing on a small riser, both women realize they need to sit down and plop down like rag dolls on the stair. When they fight over a telephone call that might be from Maurice, the two women perform a telephone cord tango. Period music and sound design by Christopher Kriz are a key part of the production and also highlight intermission and pre-show.

As always, Remy Bumppo makes ingenious use of their open-space second-floor mainstage at the Greenhouse Theater Center. Without any of the fly space, raised, lowered or turntable stages that larger theater companies use, Remy Bumppo mounts smartly designed, flexible sets using lighting and props to move the story. For instance, in Fallen Angels, a round ottoman on casters plays a starring role throughout the play. Credit goes to Jeff Bauer's set design and Andrew Meyers' lighting.

The fashion look of Fallen Angels is a solid representation of 1920s male and female couture. The gentlemen's golfing suits both feature knickers. Willy arrives ready to golf in a loud plaid suit and tam o'shanter. Maurice's costume is finished off with spats. But it's the women's costumes--day and evening dresses for Julia and Jane and bright blue pajamas for Julia--that really sparkle. Janice Pytel gets credit for costume design with important support from Carolyn Cristofani's gown construction and the work of four stitchers.

Noel Coward is known as the playwright of brittle, witty Roaring Twenties drawing room comedies such as Blithe Spirit, Design for Living, Private Lives and Hay Fever, which are part of the regular repertoire for theaters all over the world. Fallen Angels, a 1923 play, is not as well known and reviewers considered it vulgar and risqué when first produced in 1925 in London and in 1927 in New York. Coward was a multitalented artist--writer, actor, composer and painter--who wrote short stories as well as plays and often starred in his own productions.

Remy Bumppo's Fallen Angels runs through Jan. 10 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., with performances Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets are $47.50 to $52.50 and can be bought online or by calling 773-404-7336.

GB store
GB store

Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


An Angry White Guy
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Devening Projects
DIY Film
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Mess Hall
Neoteric Art
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
The Seen
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store



A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.

About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop,
A/C staff inbox:



A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15