The story concerns Julia and Jane, two life long best friends, who have both been stuck in a passionless marriage for many years. However, things are liable to change when they learn that Maurice, a French man they both had an affair with many years ago, is coming to London. They are now torn between their passion for Maurice and what he represents, and the stability that their married life offers. To complicate matters, both women suspects that the other is scheming to meet Maurice in secret. However, with the arrival of Maurice, and the unexpected return home of their husbands, matters become even more frantic.
The start of the play is a little low key, but with the arrival of Francis de la Tour on stage as 'Jane', the comedy tempo raises, but not much. It is in the second act, when they are both awaiting the arrival of Maurice, that the comedy begins to soar as both Jane and Julia get drunk, and whip themselves into a frenzy with the anticipation of love and passion returning into their lives in the form of Maurice.
This is one of those comedies that depend on your comedy taste. This is because the play features actors who play drunk, panic-stricken stupid people that do daft things. To some, this may be irritating and childish, to others it will be hilarious. I found the play witty and pleasant, but this is not so much because of Coward's script, which could have been funnier, but mainly because of a brilliant cast that performed with exceptional comic timing. Frances de la Tour is particularly outstanding, and so too is Felicity Kendall. The scene where they are both drunk, is one of the funniest I have seen in the West End in a long time. There is also a great performance from Tilly Tremayne as 'Saunders', the new stern housekeeper who knows everything, and has done everything. Don't be surprised to see her nominated for an Olivier Award for 'Best Supporting Actress'!
The show has received great reviews from the popular press…..NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says of Kendall and de la Tour, "Their comedy duet delights" and goes on to say "Coward's Angels scale modern, sexy heights." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "It's hard to believe this is the first time Kendal and de la Tour have acted together. Their effortless rapport is a delight." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "This, I suspect, is one of those great comic productions that linger in the memory for years and find you smiling in the middle of the night with recollected pleasure." MICHAEL BILINGTON for THE GUARDIAN was more impressed with Tilly Tremayne's performance than the main stars saying, "Good as they are, the stars are overshadowed by Tilly Tremayne, as the sharp-featured maid who knows about everything from golf to tropical medicine." MICHAEL COVENEY for THE DAILY MAIL also loved he show saying, "For sheer frothy delight, and comedy playing at its best, there is nothing on the London stage to touch this superb revival.." SHERIDAN MORLEY for TELETEXT says, " On Paul Farnsworth's hugely elegant set this is a joyous revival of a play that has been away for too long."
Lasting two hours, this is not a great comedy, but it certainly has some memorable moments, and is definitely worth seeing for those three female performances alone!