Quartet at Birmingham Rep

by Julie Wallis twitter.com/NiceNic63

Quartet at Birmingham Rep

Quartet is at Birmingham Repertory Theatre until 10th March and it is a wonderful treat.

This is the heartwarming, joyously uplifting story of four opera singers who live together in their autumn years, and are trying to recapture their prime at a Giuseppe Verde memorial concert by performing Rigoletto.

Sue Holderness, Paul Nicholas, Wendi Peters, Jeff Rawle in Quartet. Picture by Antony Thompson
Sue Holderness, Paul Nicholas, Wendi Peters, Jeff Rawle in Quartet. Picture by Antony Thompson

Wilfred obsessed with sex, I guess the colloquial term could be ‘dirty old man’ but Wilfred still has a twinkle in his eye and hope in his heart. Wilfred played by Paul Nicholas (Just Good Friends/Eastenders) plays is less a dirty old man and more an enthusiastic optimist.

Jeff Rawle (Drop the dead donkey) plays Reginald, and poor Reginald is more of a ‘grumpy old man’ but that’s not entirely his fault. Reginald is grumpy because he didn’t get marmalade with his breakfast and his grumpy mood is compounded when his ex wife turns up as the newest resident.

Wendi Peters (Coronation Street) plays Cecily. Cecily is a bit scatty these days, forgetful, confused at times, a little eccentric and the main object of Wilfred’s lust. Wilfred and Reginald are protective of Cecily, as if the staff realise just how dotty Cecily is, she will be sent away.

Finally, the new arrival and Reginald’s ex wife Jean, played by Sue Holderness (Only Fools and Horses) Jean was, in her prime the original diva, her voice was something to behold before her sudden and early retirement and now Jean finds herself in the awkward position of having to live on charity and with her first husband. Jean is adamant she will never perform again, she wants the world to remember just how perfect she was in her hayday.

Paul Nicholas, Sue Holderness, Jeff Rawle, Wendi Peters in Quartet. Picture by Antony Thompson
Paul Nicholas, Sue Holderness, Jeff Rawle, Wendi Peters in Quartet. Picture by Antony Thompson

The casting for this is perfect, Paul Nicholas still has that famous twinkle in his eye and the cheeky grin that made him a pinup to so many, myself included. Wendi Peters plays the part of slightly dotty with relish. Think Julie Walters in Dinner ladies, and you’ll not be far wrong. If Miss Peters had over played her character by just the tiniest bit more, it would have destroyed all credibility, but she plays her part with perfection in my opinion.

Act one and the audience are laughing before even one word has been spoken. Act two, the same. This is a very funny show. This entire performance is set in the rather grand music room of the home our characters now live in, with minimal adjustments to the set the story flows, until the finale when our quartet are on stage for their performance of Rigoletto. They even have a heckler in the audience for the grand finale.

Paul Nicholas, Sue Holderness, Jeff Rawle, Wendi Peters in Quartet. Picture by Antony Thompson
Paul Nicholas, Sue Holderness, Jeff Rawle, Wendi Peters in Quartet. Picture by Antony Thompson

There’s lots to love about this: all four of our characters had their own clear personalities and those personalities interacted with each other, I watched as Jean went from aloof and slightly frosty towards Cicily as a friendship develops. Wilfred and Reginald have a solid understanding of each other, and somehow these friendships shine through from the stage, not via the words spoken, but through the talent of four great actors.

Tickets for Quartet, which is at Birmingham Rep until Saturday 10th March, are available here: birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/quartet.html


This isn’t a sponsored post. Julie saw Cheltenham Everyman Theatre presents Quartet on behalf of #BrumHour at the invitation of Birmingham Rep.

Julie blogs as RedandGoldWeb here: redandgoldweb.wordpress.com

Advertisements