Cecily, Reggie and Wilfred are in a home for retired opera singers. Jean, who used to be married to Reggie, arrives at the home in time for a concert to celebrate Verdi’s Birthday. She is still acting like a diva and refuses to sing. But the show must go on.
|Cecily Robson||Alison Davis|
|Reginald Paget||David Reynolds|
|Wilfred Bond||Tony Broughton|
|Jean Norton||Maureen Casket|
Sale & Altrincham Messenger’s review by Rick Bowen
Growing Old in Style
When I was a child, I can remember my grandad saying ‘don?t grow old, Rick’ and while ‘Quartet’ isn’t, in many ways, the most positive advert for the ageing process, it’s also an uplifting play that offers a great deal of hope. Hope for people who society deems to have nothing left to offer, hope for people who are branded as being past their sell by date. They say laughter is the best medicine but it’s a large dose of opera that gives the four ageing characters a new lease of life in Ronald Harwood’s funny and moving play. An intellectual banquet, ‘Quartet’ is currently playing at Altrincham Garrick and it should be a hit with theatregoers desperate for something to get their teeth into. The characters are strong and distinctive and Harwood even manages to offer us vivid portraits of characters we never see. Now that is quite a gift and he does it without putting too much flesh on their bones. We’re in a posh but soulless retirement home and opera singers Cecily, Reg, Wilfred and Jean feel their lives have lost their purpose and they are, in effect, twiddling their thumbs in God’s waiiting room. Cecily’s memory is going, Reg, who seems to be the most able of the four, is prone to spontaneous, child like tantrums, Wilfred is the living embodiment of one of those old fashioned, saucy seaside postcards and Jean is an ageing prima donna who expects everyone to kow-tow to her every need. They get they chance to perform again or, as the incurably randy Wilfred puts it, “to be young again.” Cue the lump in my throat. Director Barry Purves is a lover of opera and his unbridled affection currently comes out in a production that has obviously been nurtured with tender, loving care. But you don’t have to share his passion to enjoy a play that makes you think about the way society dismisses and dumps its elderly. This isn’t an exclusive play – it’s there for all of us to enjoy. Excellent performances and Purves’s set, characteristically creative, deserves a round of applause in itself.
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