City of angels synopsis

City of Angels takes place in the glamorous city of Los Angeles, California. Located in Hollywood, Stine, a novelist who is attempting to turn his novel into a screenplay, fights to save his friendships, his career, and his marriage. As he creates the story about Stone, a private detective, the characters in Stine’s screenplay come to life on stage.

act 1

Stone is lying on a hospital gurney with a bullet in his shoulder. He is a tough private eye, but Stone suffers from a bruised heart, due to his weakness for beautiful women. He also suffers from an empty wallet, thanks to his stubborn morality that will not allow him to take dishonest jobs.


Stone has a flashback from a week earlier, when his secretary, Oolie, escorted a rich and beautiful woman named Alaura Kingsley into his office. Alaura claimed that she wanted Stone to find her missing stepdaughter, Mallory. Stone was reluctant, but he decided to take the case.


Suddenly, another man appears on stage. He sits at his typewriter as all other actors begin rewinding and replaying the same scene with a few changes. The man at the typewriter is Stine, author of many popular detective novels starring Stone. He is adapting one of his novels for his first screenplay. The film involving Stone that is un-raveling onstage is from Stine’s imagination.


Shortly after editing his scenes, Stine’s producer, Buddy Fidler, enters. Fidler is a Hollywood mogul who is financing Stine’s film. Something about Buddy is disconcerting, but for now, he’s still relishing the success.

Back at Stine’s hotel, we meet Gabby, Stine’s wife, who wishes Stine would stick to writing novels, instead of screenplays. Stine won’t listen, though. The mix between “real” and “reel” life begins to introduce itself as Oolie joins Gabby in lamenting frustration in “What You Don’t Know About Women.”


The show changes back to the film and Stone is approached by Lieutenant Muñoz of the Los Angeles Police Department. Lt. Muñoz was Stone’s partner on the force but now holds a major grudge against him. Stone, it seems, was in love with a nightclub singer named Bobbi. She, however, wanted fame more than a marriage with Stone. When Stone caught her with a Hollywood producer, tempers flared, a gun went off, and the producer was dead of a “heart attack” caused by two bullets. Lt. Muñoz has never forgiven Stone for “getting away” with the murder.


Stone, frustrated about his new case, confronts Alaura at her mansion and meets several more unpleasant characters including her stepson, Peter, her much older husband, Luther, and Luther’s spiritual leader. There is disagreement and suspicion in the air, but Alaura’s charm and hefty bank account keep Stone on the case.


Stone continues searching for the “missing” stepdaughter, Mallory, only to find her waiting naked in his bed. Stone manages to resist temptation, but the same cannot be said for his creator. While Gabby, Stine’s wife, has gone back to New York, Stine takes comfort in the bed of Buddy Fidler’s secretary, Donna.


After a photographer breaks in and snaps a picture of him and Mallory in bed, Stone learns that he has been set up. After the picture was taken, Mallory ran off with Stone’s gun, and Dr. Mandril, Luther Kingsley’s spiritual leader, was shot dead. Stone realizes that he has been framed for murder and Lt. Muñoz arrests him shortly thereafter.

act 2

Act 2 opens with a record playing in a bedroom. The room is at first misleading, as we think it is Alaura’s bedroom, but it is actually the bedroom of Carla, Buddy’s wife, who will be playing Alaura in Stine’s movie.


Stine, having troubles of his own, is lonely at a Hollywood party hosted by Buddy. From the party, Stine calls home and finds that Gabby has discovered his affair with Donna. He flies to New York with an elaborately planned excuse, but she does not buy it.


Stone, like Stine, is fighting to clear his conscience. Despite his efforts to stay away from her, he encounters Bobbi. He learns that she shot the Hollywood producer with whom Stone found her in bed and that all this time he had “gotten away” with a murder that he didn’t commit!


Oolie, meanwhile, has made a discovery and shares with Stone that Alaura is a fortune hunter who has already murdered one rich husband and planned to do the same to Luther. Stone confronts Alaura, they scramble for her gun, shots ring out, Stone is gravely wounded, and Alaura falls dead.


Stine’s real life and “reel” life are both crumbling before him as his wife rejects him and his characters are falling apart. As he faces the collapse of his two worlds, Stine becomes fragile and emotional. He later arrives on the movie set and finds that Buddy’s name appears above his on the cover of the screenplay, and that the shallow crooner Jimmy Powers will play Stone. 


At this point, Stine boils over, but finally makes the right choice. He throws a fit, gets himself fired, and is about to be escorted out by two security guards when Stone somehow appears at Stine’s typewriter and tacks on a “Hollywood ending.”

Rebecca Trehearn & Rosalie Craig in City of Angels at the Donmar Warehouse (2014) (Photo: Johan Persson)
Rebecca Trehearn & Rosalie Craig in City of Angels at the Donmar Warehouse (2014) (Photo: Johan Persson)


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