Greg Mullavey (Wilfred), Elizabeth Franz (Jean),
Joseph Hindy (Reginald), and Patricia McAneny
(Cecily). Photo by Randy O'Rourke
The setting for what is essentially a drawing room play (or parlor or salon play) is a music room, pleasingly designed by Michael Schweikardt, in a retirement home for aging artists who have fallen on hard times. As the play opens we meet Reginald (Joseph Hindy), Cecily (a.k.a. “Sissy” – Patricia McAneny) and Wilfred (Greg Mullavey), all former opera singers who are fixated on an upcoming celebration at the home scheduled for Oct. 10, Giuseppe Verdi’s birthday (Sissy refers to him as “Joe Green”). The residents of the home will perform in “Joe’s” honor.
Each of the characters has minor quirks: Reginald is aloof as he seeks to find a satisfactory definition for “art”; Sissy drifts in and out of reality and often welcomes people home from
, though they have not travelled
beyond the confines of the home; and Wilfred strives to maintain a faux
randiness that his age precludes. Into this mix comes Jean (Elizabeth Franz), a
true diva who was once married (very briefly) to Reginald. Her appearance
allows the three residents to consider the possibility of them performing the
quartet from Verdi’s Rigoletto. Jean
will initially have nothing to do with it. Karachi
Of course, there are back stories and reveals, but the back stories are not very interesting and the reveals can only elicit polite yawns, for there is nothing truly dark or devastating lurking in the background, thus there is nothing up for grabs. Hence, what director John Simpkins has to work with are four character studies of people who, in the long run, are simply not very interesting.
This is unfortunate, for the cast members have distinguished pedigrees and work hard to bring their characters to life. McAneny is engagingly ditzy as Sissy, Hindy gives us a troubled persona who maintains a façade of intellectuality, Mullavey is a wonderful “dirty old man” and Franz is an ideal diva who clings to her former glory as a drowning sailor might to a life raft. Fine performances all. Thus, the enjoyment to be found in watching Quartet emanates from style and thespian talent rather than content.
Quartet runs through Aug. 28. For tickets call (860) 364-7469 (ext. 201 in the summer/ext. 100 in the winter) or go to http://sharonplayhouse.org/theatre/tickets/