“Art is nothing if it does not make you feel.” A perfect quotation from a wonderful evening’s entertainment. Quartet certainly made you feel from start to finish; laughter, tears and every emotion in-between. This quietly inspiring play is well written, and this production perfectly executed with moments of pathos and hilarity in equal measure.
From the very start, Wendi Peters (Cecily Robson) oozed charisma and perfect comic-timing. She had the audience in the palm of her hands the moment the lights went up and she was sitting, legs spread singing along silently to a Verdi aria – we knew we were in for a treat! Her exits from the stage were truly legendary, made even more hilarious by a wobbly set during Act 1.
Paul Nicholas (Wilfred Bond) allowed his cheeky, knowing smile to win the audience around to an old man with flirtatious and sometimes downright bawdy tendencies! His interactions with the other three actors were carefully considered and highlighted the wonderful relationships the characters had together in this moving play.
Jeff Rawle’s portrayal of the rather withdrawn Reginald Paget shows a straight-laced elderly gentleman whose reaction to not being served marmalade at breakfast, but rather apricot jam, is so out of character and shocking that it had the audience erupting with laughter.
Consternation ensues when they hear that the latest arrival to the home will be none other than the tactless diva Jean Horton, played with upright assuredness by Sue Holderness. Her arrival at the home highlights the stark realities of getting old but, at the same time, allows the characters to rally round and revive her spirit.
It goes without saying that all four of these experienced actors were truly fantastic in their portrayal of their characters. What struck me most was their ability to move so seamlessly between uproarious comedy moments to moments of real pathos and emotion, literally within one line of dialogue.
Director Peter Rowe has allowed the audience to feel happy, sad, thoughtful, concerned by taking them on an emotional journey into the lives of four wonderful characters. A memorable production which shows the power of living life to the full juxtaposed against the poignancy of growing old.
I certainly left the theatre with a feeling of having been entertained but also made to think. The final sequence of the play in which all four revive a performance of the Quartet from Verdi’s Rigoletto leaves us with the realisation that the body may fade but the spirit will never die!
Quartet plays at The REP until 10 March.
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