From the Austin Live Theatre website. A lovely review of Saturday’s show. I feel rather proud. And relieved.
Our Angle of Heaven by Maggie Gallant, FronteraFest at Salvage Vanguard, January 24, 25, 28, February 1
What angle do we take on heaven and the richness of its offerings for us? And where is that heaven? Who goes there?
That’s a lot of message for a simple misspelling.
Maggie gives us eight characters in the twelve monologues she presents in about 45 minutes at the Salvage Vanguard. It is perhaps telling that the one who ties the evening together bears the name “Maggie” in the program – - a Maggie called back from France to attend her father’s funeral and whom the Eurostar train crew favored with an unscheduled stop near her home. That Maggie tries to make sense of a personal loss and memorial while all of the UK is obsessed by the mythic Diana and the attendant ceremonies. Diana’s funeral becomes a tourist event, replacing the temporarily closed wax museum at Madame Tussaud’s — and a family from the north of England leaves the bouquet and poster meant to celebrate “our angel in heaven.”
This is a gentle, thoughtful piece, with no notion of self- promotion. Maggie begins as Jane, a simple-minded professional Diana imitator suddenly faced with lots of cancellations; then she offers us Dee, an enterprising souvenir saleslady who cheerfully takes practical advantage of her huge stock of previously unsold Royal Wedding memorabilia. Later she transforms into Catherine, an early teenager who would really rather be a boy. As unwelcome puberty arrives during the Diana disaster, she is ignored by her family.
The character closest to American-style improv comedy is Barry, hatted and clad in a white rain slicker, lecturing the public at the Speakers Corner at Hyde Park. He provides confident explanations of conspiracies, aliens, and how the royal family gets together in the basements of Balmoral Castle to resume their real alien shapes. Gallant doesn’t excessively send Barry up. One has the feeling that Barry’s certainty may have been observed rather than simply invented.
My favorite is Mrs. Meena Khan. This Muslim woman of immense dignity unexpectedly finds herself a celebrity because of a photo published in the Daily Mirror. Walking past the mounds of flowers along the fences in central London, she experienced a sudden allergic reaction that brought tears to her eyes. A passerby misread the reaction and planted a kiss on her cheek, just as the Mirror’s man hit the shutter. Meena has trenchant, dismissive comments to make about the newspaper, the national frenzy, and Diana herself.
There was a good turnout for this presentation and the audience was receptive. These are rich, intelligent portraits. Maggie Gallant gives them entire respect and welcome humanity. Recommended!