QUARTET – Adelaide Rep

QUARTET – Adelaide Rep

Reviewed by David Smith

April 2015

The Rep did well in its interpretation of Quartet, Ronald Harwood’s delightful, bitter-sweet exploration of life in a home for retired opera performers. All four actors were credible as ageing singers and they convincingly created the twilight world of the nursing home.

Brian Knott energetically played Wilf, the ageing roué who had a number of the play’s best punch lines. He served as a strong contrast to the other characters and made much of the saucy lines, particularly when making fun of Cissy. 

Jean Walker brought a combination of self importance and brittleness as Jean Horton, the faded soprano. She sensitively handled the admission about her retirement, which clashed with her general demeanour and repeated stories of her glory days.

Julie Quick as Cissy had the most engaging character. All four had their vulnerabilities but Cissy drew most empathy. Her forgetfulness and eccentricity were central to the character and highlighted the gentle sadness which underscored the whole piece

As Reggie, Russell Starke really hit the spot. He was distinguished and generally restrained but occasionally lashed out, most notably against the nurse who failed to provide his favourite marmalade at breakfast. He was especially moving in the speech about recapturing their youth by reviving their famous quartet.

Granted, the characters were themselves rather forgetful, but it would have been a much stronger finale if they’d all managed to master the art of lip-synch.

Not all of the audience were of an age to identify with the characters’ lives, but those who were made it clear that the many high points hit home.

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This production was reviewed by:

David Smith
David Smith
David’s long involvement in community theatre began in Adelaide and continued for some decades in Port Augusta, Whyalla, Kapunda and the Barossa, and for one year, McAllen, Texas, USA. He is a performer, director, writer and former secondary school Drama teacher. He sings in the Adelaide Harmony Choir.

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