Angel Delight

Written by Gillian Juckes
Presented by Vauxy Theatre
Unity Theatre
Thursday 29th March 2012

Reviewed by Jennifer Keegan

Angel Delight shows us the story of Jenny; a woman who at first suspects, and then eventually confirms that her long-standing husband Pete is cheating on her with his secretary. Jenny is played by well known Liverpool actress Eithne Browne, Browne brings a likability factor to the role right from the beginning when, while decorating, she starts talking to the radio, well, shouting at the radio which is claiming that we all have guardian angels watching over us. As Jenny wonders why her husband is behaving strangely, she asks the radio where her guardian angels are.

Enter two men, dressed as burglars with woolly hats, boiler suits and wellington boots, with wings. Her guardian angels, played by Chris Darwin and Francis Tucker, are comical before they even speak, and they both play up to the audience’s laughter with cheeky grins and rolls of their eyes. Explaining how they have been demoted to marital issues; with Jenny and Pete being their last chance to prove themselves before they are subjected to being retrained.

Darwin's comic timing is excellent, especially when he tells the story of being given the job of a man about to jump of a bridge; explaining how the man was taking his time coming to a decision about jumping or not, Darwin explained the need of time efficiency in the guardian angel business, and without the hint of a smile, he calmly explained he had given the man a nudge to speed up the job. The audience roared with laughter as he paused for effect.

Tucker was equally amusing in his roles as an angel, and every other female in Jenny's life. In drag he played Sue; Pete's friend’s wife, Joan; Pete's mum, Rebecca; Pete's mistress, but his brilliance lay in playing Marcy, Jenny's glamorous best friend. With two ex husbands who happened to be solicitors, Marcy thinks herself the person to guide Jenny through this distressing time in her life. As ridiculous as she is helpful, Marcy gives Tucker the chance to shine, allowing him the character to explore the real comedy between two close 'women'.

Browne as Jenny is the standout performance; she radiates warmth as the mother of two grown up children and hurt playing the betrayed wife. She can hold her own with the comedy; when Pete moves in with his mistress, Jenny receives an irate phone call from them both demanding to know if she did the damage to Rebecca’s car, in an innocent, earnest way she explains she would never do such a terrible thing, but as she hangs up the phone, she has a playful smile on her face as she removes two wing mirrors out of her bag and places them on the mantelpiece; the audience loved it, fully supporting the character she had created. As a scouse housewife her sarcasm and wit is clever, but her brilliance in this play lay in the understated truth. The heartache etched on her face as she spoke of Pete. That is where she earned her applause.

The play ends with Pete asking Jenny if they can meet up and talk, which she agrees to. After spending much of the play in dowdy trousers and smocks, she comes out for her applause dressed to kill, seemingly off to meet Pete. We never know if she takes him back or not, but the audience was firmly on her side as she stood there looking wonderful.

Overall a brilliant and amusing look at what happens when life throws you a curveball, a few parts could have been edited out and not been missed; the belly dancing class scene was gratuitous and unnecessary, as were the unexpected advances Jenny received from men after Pete had moved out. Luckily these scenes did not detract too much from a play which made the audience laugh with and feel for its characters.

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