Gun - Croft & Hartley Reviews
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Bums on seats (Guest)
Quartet hit the right notes
Ronald Harwood's play, Quartet, shines the spotlight on a brief moment in the twilight years of four once-famous opera stars; all faded from glory and all either bewildered by age or bitter from ageing. Resigning themselves to merely live with their memories of former triumphs, they settle down to greet the fading light with weak bladders, dementia and regret.

All of which, surprisingly, turns out to be charmingly funny and so sweet you could spread it on a nice warm crumpet.

A cosy set up in a refined retirement home for musical artistes and artisans somewhere in middle England provides the backdrop for an intelligently crafted piece of theatre that both saddens and inspires and Camp Theatre’s quartet of actors dovetail together brilliantly in a synergy that moves the story along with skilful ease.

Cissy the mezzo-soprano, played with a wonderful child-like glee by Bernice Strickland reveals a career of fame and promiscuous infamy, struggling to remember the present but always in touch with the past. Steve Jefferies is perfect in the role of Reg playing a frustrated, list-making obsessed tenor whose life is overturned when his former wife and overbearing diva Jean (Glenda Ellis in fine, regal form) turns up to take residence while, adding much of the welcome humour, Kevin Kibbey shines in a lusty performance as the lecherous baritone Wilfred.

In an attempt to reconcile their differences and indeed not to give into time but to “rage against the dying of the light”, they hatch a plan to revisit their past in one glorious moment at the home's annual Giuseppe Verdi concert singing the quartet from Rigoletto, a piece they had performed together decades before. As rehearsals take place for the event the opportunity arises for the script to highlight the woes and anger of getting old which is nicely tempered by the notion that our hearts remain forever young and ambition, love and hope should never fade.

The ending is particularly poignant and Camp treat this play well, which is in no small part, due to the perfect casting and sympathetic direction by Steve Jefferies.

It's on tour until the end of October. Don't miss it.
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