My Three Angels (1972)

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Poster by Poster Designer

by Sam Spewack & Bella Spewack

Directed by Alex Kanarek & Frances Nelson

Performances: 9th & 11th - 16th December 1972, Theatre


Text about the play




"Make a Killing at Christmas"

Most amateur companies get round to "My Three Angels" sooner or later. This week it is the turn of the South London Theatre Centre.

The approach of Christmas gives that play that little extra relevance. With the cash registers tinkling like demented sleigh-bells, there is a certain irony in watching a play whose angels of Christmas are an embezzler and two murderers, while its villains are a respectable business man and his correct nephew. And those who object to its moral values can always take comfort from the play's French origins.

The play, by Sam and Bella Speywack, is set in Felix Dulay's general store in a French penal colony in South America in the year 1910, a fact betoken by as trim, clean and well constructed a set as we have seen at the S.L.T.C. for many a day . In point of fact, a little more disorder and confusion would have been preferred to chime with the run-down state of the business and of M. Duylay's books. But Alex Kanarek's production presents Mme. Dulay (Katherine Phillips) as the kind of woman who would go down fighting in the most immaculate order.

Robert Skinner, who gives an affectionate and endearing performance as her husband, allows her to fuss, chide and scold him while he gets on with the business of proving that virtue will have its own reward in the end.

The agents by which that happy outcome is achieved are three convicts who are working on the Dulay's roof at the time and drop in for Christmas. They learn that Felix's feared cousin Gaston is about to inspect the books, with potentially disastrous consequences for the business.

After proving their skills in various departments (including salesmanship, knight-errantry and accountancy) they solve all outstanding problems by releasing their pet snake into Gaston's room, where it slays both uncle and nephew.

The three interact well together at all times, but Edwin Stone is the only one to create a really interesting individual character. He is the ingenious Joseph, salesman and book-keeper extraordinary, a crumpled figure in steel-rimmed glasses whose enthusiasm lights him up like a lamp. Alex Kanarek plays the genial wife-murderer Jules, Geoffrey Kenton the chivalrous slayer of an inconvenient stepfather.

There are some vividly played scenes, such as the discovery that the insufferable nephew Paul (Malcolm Woodman) has been bitten by the snake, and to a lesser extent the mock-trial scene in which Gaston's case is discussed by due process. As Gaston, John Anderson gives an impression of controlled savagery, or bottled bile. One always likes to see the sheer nastiness of the man brought out - it makes his fate that much more enjoyable.

Valerie Westbey is impressive as the "Hoity-Toity" lady who runs up huge credit bills. Deidre Shaw is wan as the lovesick Marie-Louise, and her condition is unlikely to be satisfied by the palely loitering Sb-Lt. Espoir of Jonathan Taylor.

Donald Madgwick, The Croydon Advertiser.


Reminiscences and Anecdotes

I had to take over the part of Jules at short notice, as the actor who was originally cast had to drop out. Always a nightmare, but at least I had a certain familiarity with the script...Alex Kanarek.

See Also

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