QUARTET - Sharon Playhouse

For a sedate evening of civilized entertainment attend QUARTET, which closes out Sharon Playhouse’s summer season. The 1999 play written by the prodigious author, screenwriter and playwright Ronald Harwood was the basis for the successful film version of 2012. The setting is a British retirement home for musical artists. Three chummy 80-something opera veterans, Reginald, Cecily and Wilfred, each with successful but not really famous careers behind them, fill their day planning their performance for the home’s annual concert. Enter new arrival diva Jean who refuses to perform in the quartet from Verdi’s Rigoletto, which the four had recorded together decades before. Will Jean change her mind?

The play is a gentle, if not timid, contemplation on aging and memory, but more satisfying in the skilled hands of the superb cast assembled by director John Simpkins a wonderful occasion to observe seasoned players display their craft. Patricia McAneny charms as the delightfully daft, benignly demented Cecily whose memory lapses Harwood uses for kind-hearted comic relief. Joseph Hindy as the practical-minded Reginald manages not only the vagaries of the group’s dynamics as its leader but also personal anguish as rejected spouse of Jean. Greg Mullavey, whom those of a “certain age” will remember as the TV husband of Mary Hartman, enlivens the stage with the piss and vinegar of a still-randy Lothario. Elizabeth Franz, who won a Tony for redefining Linda Loman in the 1999 revival of “Death of A Salesman”, as Jean elegantly finds dignity in the shimmer of a sparkling past.

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