Kim Watts( as Reginald), Sylvia Swift (as Cecily), Mary Louise Phillips (as Jean Horton) and Rien Vesseur (as Wilfred). (Mercury Players photo)

Kim Watts( as Reginald), Sylvia Swift (as Cecily), Mary Louise Phillips (as Jean Horton) and Rien Vesseur (as Wilfred). (Mercury Players photo)

Duncan’s Mercury Players tackle artists and aging in ‘Quartet’

How do artists survive when their time in the spotlight is over?

Director Leslie Sanchez and the Mercury Players are presenting Ronald Harwood’s delightful, heart warming comedy Quartet this May.

The show stars a foursome of actors including Mary Louise Phillips, who plays diva Jean Horton, a former Grande Dame soprano who unexpectedly moves into the same home for retired musicians as her reserved and intellectual ex-husband Reginald (Kim Watts) and his two former opera partners.

Joining Phillips and Watts in the play — chock full of wicked and saucy humour about art and growing old —are Sylvia Swift, as “the sweet, buxom Cecily, who’s in the early stages of dementia” and Rien Vesseur, as “the wise-cracking, sex-obsessed Wilfred.”

All four characters in the play are struggling with ageing ailments, from debilitating arthritis to dementia.

Struggling with her past and uncertain future, Jean speaks her mind with hurtful (and hilarious) results. Worse still, she refuses to participate in an onstage reprise of the group’s famous third act quartet from Verdi’s Rigoletto. Can these feisty troupers defy the years and shine together once more?

You’ll have to buy a ticket and find out for yourself!

The show works hard to address concerns about aging with passion and even a little bit of raunchy humour, so be forewarned.

“The play takes gentle aim at the myths and misconceptions younger people hold about growing old,” Phillips explained. “I think people will find this play reassuring and maybe even provocative. I hope Quartet will remind people that getting old need not be a prison sentence.”

Director Sanchez works with seniors and said “Quartet is a play lots of seniors can appreciate and relate to. It’s important to follow your passions, (like the characters in this play) no matter how old you are.”

The production was a good fit for the Players because “it offers substantial roles for actors of a certain age,” said Players’ spokesperson Kathy Yewell. “As actors grow older, opportunities lessen. Therefore, it’s wonderful to be able to showcase some of Mercury Players’ most experienced, talented members in such a witty, funny and moving play.”

Yewell went on to note that the show is also good for many people of the Cowichan Valley.

Quartet is particularly befitting of our senior population here in the Valley, many of whom are Mercury Players audience members. It’s a play that offers hope and confidence to those in retirement, perhaps with the physical limitations of aging, who may feel they no longer have much to offer,” she said.

Quartet runs May 5-15, with Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday May 14 at 7:30 p.m. Matinees are available on Saturday May 7 and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. at the Mercury Theatre located at 331 Brae Rd. in Duncan.

Tickets are $22 for general admission and $17 for seniors/students. Opening night Thursday May 5 is two tickets for $30. Tickets are available online at eventbrite.ca, in person from Ten Old Books and at the door.

Any requirement for vaccine passports and masks will be in keeping with current government recommendations. For more information see mercuryplayers.org

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