Quartet – Ronald Harwood
Theatre Royal Bath
Quartet by Ronald Harwood is the tale of a group of ageing opera singers. Cecily, Reggie and Wilfred all of whom reside in a magnificent retirement home in Kent. Their apparent peace is quashed by the arrival of a true Diva Jean. Old rivalries, romances and secrets resurface causing disruption and chaos. But in true spirit, the show must go on.
This is a slow paced play which deals with the consequences of old age and memories. Whilst the general consensus is to grow old disgracefully; the four characters are set as types and the device to lead them to perform together gives the play its focus and much of its humour.
Paul Nicholas (Wilfred) Jeff Rawle (Reginald) Wendi Peters (Cecily) Sue Holderness (Jean) all work well together. Whilst the script is fairly narrow for character development; Wilfred is clearly preoccupied with sex, Cecily with the gardener, Reginald is insistent that everyone knows he is not there on “charity” whilst Jean joins the trio as caustic as ever although there are cracks in the veneer and her needs becomes more apparent.
There were moments of fine comedy and the final scene whereby they recall their infamous performance of Verdi’s “Rigoletto” brings great fun for the audience. The script also reflects the changing themes of a musical quartet where the dialogue repeats and develops over the course of the play. This production, directed by Peter Rowe has been on tour and finishes in Bath.