Science&Tech editor Emilia Rose reviews the ‘light-hearted and thought-provoking’ Quartet at the REP, Birmingham.
Quartet is a charming comedy about four ageing opera singers that manages to be both light-hearted and thought-provoking. It is full of double-entendres and laugh-out-loud moments woven masterfully between quiet contemplation of what it means to grow old.
It is set solely in the music room of a retirement home in Kent, where a trio, who consider themselves ‘the elite’, pass their time. Their peace is shattered by the arrival of Jean (Sue Holderness), a diva whose fame and talent once surpassed that of her new fellow ‘inmates’.
Although they all long for their former days of fame and glory, the four characters couldn’t be more different. Paul Nicholas’ Wilfred is a randy old man whose well-timed one-liners never fail to elicit a giggle from the audience, whilst the zany yet lovable Cecily (portrayed by Wendi Peters of Coronation Street fame) is under the misguided impression that everyone has just returned from Karachi. Reggie (Jeff Rawle) is often engaged in quiet study of the meaning of art, which makes his sudden, swear-y outbursts at the matron all the more shocking and hilarious.
The set looked grand and was beautifully decorated, adding to the overall charm of the production. However, it was a shame that the set required a lot of rearranging between some scenes, although this was carried out quite swiftly.
Although the play is perhaps not aimed specifically at your average student, it provides an insight into the regret and resentment that often accompanies advanced age which inspires the audience to make the most of their youth and the time they have left.
As Reggie proclaims after much reflection: ‘art means nothing if it doesn’t make you feel’—and this play is guaranteed to do just that.
Quartet is at the Birmingham REP from March 6th – March 10th. More information can be found here.