'Three Angels' offers high entertainment value Excellent actors portray trio of changed criminals

January 22, 1998|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Playwrights have long recognized that devious miscreants can have a firmer grasp on reality than ethical tradesmen, whose honesty can lead to financial ruin.

That's the premise of the Colonial Players' production of Sam and Bella Spewack's "My Three Angels," a pleasant comedy set in a 1910 penal colony in French Guiana.

The Ducotel family employs three of the prisoners to repair their roof, which gives the criminals an opportunity to eavesdrop, literally, on the family's financial and romantic woes. The prisoners, realists who become sympathetic to the family's plight, decide to help.

The script demands skilled ensemble players, and director Ken Dreyfuss has found three excellent actors -- Ray Fulton, Joe O'Day Wildermuth and Peter Kaiser -- who adroitly play off each other in their criminals-become-angels roles.

Ken Sabel is formidable as Henri Trochard, who is about to fire Felix Ducotel from his shopkeeper job. Sabel creates a menacing character, who sees family members as mere obstructions on the road to wealth and power.

Bryan and Liz Barret, as Felix and Emilie Ducotel, convey their characters' affection for each other effortlessly, probably because they are real-life husband and wife. And Kaiser skillfully plays the convict Jules, who is more turned on by domesticity than romance and is attracted to Emilie.

Young convict Alfred, who has such a mad crush on the Ducotel's daughter, Marie-Louise, that he will do anything to make her happy, is well played by Wildermuth.

As the wily salesman-bookkeeping convict Joseph, Ray Fulton reacts well to Barret's Felix and Sabel's Henri and often assumes the lead of the convict trio.

Fran Czajka plays Marie-Louise, who learns from a letter that her fiance, Paul, has dumped her and become engaged to another woman. Ken Arnold appears as Paul.

"My Three Angels," which is set against the backdrop of the Ducotels' Christmas dinner, is a play of little intellectual challenge but of high entertainment value.

"My Three Angels" runs on weekends through Feb. 14 at the theater on East Street in Annapolis. For reservations, call the box office at 410-268-7373.

Pub Date: 1/22/98

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