Quartet closed to great acclaim and as always we are very grateful to all those loyal patrons who supported us. "The best you've ever done..." was one comment and certainly there were many smiles as people left the auditorium. Our thanks to Alan Foale for his direction and to the four actors and all those members who were involved in bringing this to the stage. Please see below for production stills and also a review kindly provided by Jenny Jones which will appear also in Adel Bells.
Reggie, Cissy and Wilf, all former opera singers, now enjoy a sedate retirement together in a charming rural setting. Sedate, that is, until the arrival of Jean. She was the fourth member of their triumphant Rigoletto many years ago. She is also Reggie’s ex-wife and far from easy-going. So how will they all cope with this unexpected reunion, the effects of age and personal differences, and a request to revive part of their famous Rigoletto? Ronald Harwood’s play tackles the subject of old age with humour, insight and sympathy.
Review of "Quartet" by Jenny Jones
As the curtains lifted to reveal the first scene the laughter started, and we knew it was going to be a good night. Three old friends, Wilf, Cissie and Reggie are in a residential home for retired actors and musicians. Why did we laugh, you might wonder… Mike Andrews (as Wilf) in shorts, a rather tight Hawaiian shirt, and a conventional jacket, with a stiff legged gait, and a walking stick. Visual humour at its best. The three were discussing the rehearsals for the celebration held there every year for Giuseppe Verdi’s birthday …”Just think,“ trilled Cissie, (she did a lot of enthusiastic trilling)… “Just think, if Giuseppe Verdi had been English, he’d have been called Joe Green!” Cissie wore a selection of flowing kaftans and matching turbans, and spent a lot of time, eyes closed in rapture and conducting silently, to a score playing through her earphones.
Reggie, the third member of the group considered Wilf rather coarse, in his regard to, and his constant talk about, the opposite sex. Reggie was far more serious and learned, but was waging a war against one of the staff, who wouldn’t give him marmalade at breakfast, one minute shouting out of the window at her, the next, his vulnerability showing, as he said, almost tearfully, “She gave me apricot jam, she KNOWS I hate apricot jam,”
The three were working towards the concert, petty squabbles happening behind the scenes, reported mainly by Cissie, who is thrilled to be on a committee now. Tidbits of gossip brighten their days, until the bombshell when they hear Jean Horton, a former celebrated opera singer is coming. Uproar ensues; Wilf is delighted another female is joining their ranks, Cissie is ecstatic, and Reggie is horrified: as it transpires, he was one of her many husbands. Jean arrived, rather aloof with all of them, especially Reggie, who couldn’t even bear to look her in the eye, and it seemed the plans for this year’s concert were going to unravel. Jean reluctantly admitted she was no longer able to sing, but to soften Reggie’s heart, brings him a jar of marmalade. Mutual support kicked in, as they steered Jean towards the final scene, which was masterly in its concept; the four of them in a tableau on the front of the stage, as Verdi’s glorious music filled the room.
The whole play was charmingly acted by all four, it was a heartwarming performance about growing old with hope, and supporting each other, even when the brightest stars have faded. It was absolutely joyous.