Having been surprised by an invite to join some friends this evening to see Quartet at the Cheltenham Everyman Theatre I’m delighted to say I was not disappointed. The lighthearted and joyous delivery of this show performed with beautifully on point comic timing and some beautiful one liners thrown with stunning comic confidence – from both Wendi Peters and Paul Nicholas – was truly enjoying to watch.
The set was gorgeous and invited you to feel the stature of these four characters’ environment, you could almost smell the rich age of the wood panelling within which they sat and feel the subtle breeze that could be seen gently waving the thin curtains like gossamer threads. It certainly painted a contented picture.
The use of architecture was very homely, you felt the comfort the three, more long term characters had in their new surroundings, but not without their own personal physical discomforts.
The physicality throughout was mostly subtle and endearing and familiar but unaffraid to be comical at times. It felt at times in the first act that it was almost too sedentary but that it kept just the right side of that balance to keep me engaged. And in the second act the cast’s physicality came into it’s own with the preparation and naturally more animated parts of the show.
Paul Nicholas’s delivery was on point and a real stand out performance for me; with his dry wit, sexual references, and sarcastic comments. Delivered with such ease and joy, seeming to delight in the constant berating by his companions.
Which is not to say I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the performances of the rest of the cast. Wendi Peters for example, who I thought was fabulously cast as Cecily Robson – with her almost ‘Kitty-esque’ cadence and at times childish energy making a refreshing change of pace always stumbling either physically or vocally into the scene.
Jeff Rawle beautifully played the steadfast, if somewhat explosive, member of the group – stepping up to take the reins and enforce some structure to the chaos. His desire to question and define art was endearing, and his sincere dislike for the nurse was a gorgeous distraction to both him and the audience throughout.
And finally Sue Holderness played Jean with a lovely energy which instantly made you feel there was more to her than her first impression would have you believe. The disappointment at being in such a place and her snobbish attitude towards other residents brought in a lovely conflict to the room. But she travelled both physically and vocally throughout the piece, by the end seeming to embrace the comfort of her new surroundings in the same way her friends did.
The final moments were beautifully presented and it was hard not to smile and revel in what these four characters had achieved. I ended the show with a lovely smile on my face and a beautiful phrase left lingering in my mind:
“Art is nothing if it doesn’t make you feel”
So thank you to all involved for a lovely heart-warming show with some good chuckles on the way.