THIS is a delightful performance of Quartet, the play by Ronald Harwood. It is about four opera singers who have retired to a former stately home. It’s a highly amusing, yet profound story.
The casting is excellent: Jenny Haywood is the cuddly, crazy, cheerful Cissy who’s on the verge of dementia. Frank Augur plays Reggie, the upright, conscientious yet deeply emotional philosopher, while Andy Marlow is Wilf, the lascivious old hunk who still hankers after sex. Caroline Bowder is Jean Horton, once a world famous diva, now a proud, prickly old prima donna. All of them really look and play their parts superbly.
The settings are effective: the terrace room with its pillars, palms and piano and the huge portraits of Verdi and Mozart that adorn the walls form a convincing backdrop for these ageing musicians and their delusions about their lives, past and present.
The first half is hilarious with Wilf doing his best to seduce Cissy and annoy Reggie. A new resident arrives. She turns out to be Jean Horton, Reggie’s former wife. Reggie is furious, Jean is alternately apologetic and thorny and refuses to sing in the Rigoletto quartet that has been organised to raise money to save their home.
By the second half, Jean has agreed to sing. As they dress for the concert, the players unleash their locked-up feelings and face the truth about their lives.
The production was directed by Bill Bowder. Congratulations on getting such a wide range of emotion and humour out of this excellent cast.
• Continues to Saturday.
Quartet, Henley Players
Tuesday, March 18