Thespians celebrate the lure of the stage

OLD actors (and singers) don’t retire – even if they do, something will usually lure them out of retirement. In Ronald Harwood’s poignant drama Quartet, on at Taunton’s Brewhouse Theatre until Saturday 16th March, four opera singers are in a retirement home, but the thrill of the stage is a siren call.

Taunton Thespians have a double bill for spring, with Noël Coward’s  one-act comedy Red Peppers, written for himself and Gertrude Lawrence,  followed by  Quartet.

Red Peppers is a lively look behind the scenes at George and Lily Pepper’s dressing room,  eavesdropping on their offstage quarrels and witnessing their onstage performances,  complete with barely disguised spats.

Quartet touches on the lives of stage performers who have left their best years behind them. Wilf,  Cissy,  Reggie and Jean are retired opera singers in a bespoke home for retired musicians, which puts on an annual concert to celebrate the birthday of Giuseppe Verdi in October. It seems only natural that the four  should choose the quartet from  Rigoletto,  Bella figlia dell’amore  (Beautiful daughter of love),  for which they were justly famous.

But will they remember the words? Fit into their costumes? Or even know what day it is? The play is a delight – moving and funny, and much better than the star-studded film.

Pictured are the Thespians in scenes from both plays.

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