May/June 2014

by Ronald Harwood

Directed by
Pam Hemming

Great fun for audience
and cast alike
Mary Redman

Better than the film
of the same name
Halstead Gazette

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Quartet is a warm, witty and wicked comedy set in a retirement home for musicians.  Cissy, Wilfred and Reginald are three elderly opera singers, who often worked together in the past.  They are now preparing for the annual gala concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday.  

However, their peaceful existence is about to be shattered by the arrival of Jean, once a huge star and also once unhappily married to Reginald.  As old grudges emerge and artistic temperaments start to bubble, is there any chance the show will go on?

On a hot June morning, Wilf, Cissy and Reggie are sitting in the music room of their retirement home.  Whilst Cissy is listening to music on her headphones she is blissfully unaware that a lascivious Wilf is regaling her with dirty talk.

Reggie, trying to read, becomes more and more disgusted with Wilf and asks him to stop.

The three discuss the forthcoming Verdi birthday gala concert and the rumours that a new arrival is coming.  Someone grand.

Cissy has found out that the arrival is Jean Horton, a famous opera singer.  Reggie is horrified and distraught as Jean is his ex-wife.

Jean finally arrives and is introduced to the others by Cissy.  Reggie, still very upset, refuses to acknowledge her.

The committee for the Verdi concert has asked the four to reprise their performance of the Quartet from Rigoletto.  Wilf, Cissy and Reggie are keen to do it but Jean steadfastly refuses to agree to it.

The following day Jean is not settling in well.  When Cissy goes to see how she is, Jean throws a saucer at her.

Jean finally comes to apologise to the others and make amends.  She brings Reggie a jar of his favourite lime marmalade.

With the others trying desperately to persude Jean to sing the Quartet with them she explains why she cannot.  After the birth of her son, she was asked to sing in New York.  When she tried rehearsing the role, she found she was unable to sing and has been silent ever since.

Cissy puts on her headphones and sings silently to the music on her CD player.  The others suddenly realise how they can perform the Quartet.

Three weeks later a theatrical skip containg some old costumes for Rigoletto has been found.  The four sort through them and Jean naturally picks out the most glamorous one.

Reggie takes charge of organising the performance and sets out the rehearsal schedule and the things that have to be done.

It is the evening of the concert and the group are preparing for their performance.  Wilf and Reggie reminisce over the old days as Cissy and Jean make each other up.

They are almost ready when Cissy has a panic attack and decides to return to India where she lived as a child.  The others luckily persuade her to continue.

It is now their turn and Reggie leads them onto the stage introducing himself and each of the others.

Finally they perform, miming to the famous production for which they are renowned.



Jan Ford
Mel Hastings
Michael Gray
Diana Bradley