QUARTET: Thomas Hardye School

BACKSTAGE drama takes on a new form with Ronald Harwood's beautifully-constructed comedy which takes place in a residential home for retired opera singers.

Dorchester Drama have fielded a first class cast of four actors who portray with great skill both the pain of growing old along with its daily victories of small battles won.

There is Reg, played by Stephen Twinn, who is consumed with anger for being denied marmalade at breakfast, Cissy (Ann Ottaway) slowly losing her memory and her mind, Wilfred, played by Trevor Williams, living in a world of sexual fantasies, and Jean (Angie Ramsden) who is in mourning for the fame she once enjoyed as a diva. As each of them is confronted with secrets from the past, they are presented with a new challenge in the form of the chance to relive former glories by performing once more an aria from Verdi's opera Rigoletto.

The claustrophobic atmosphere of a residential home is wonderfully portrayed as the four singers learn to tiptoe around the sensitivities of one another, finally coming together to perform gloriously in public for one last time.

Trevor Williams' direction never misses a beat in this surprisingly upbeat and essentially cheerful comedy drama that reveals the humanity of its characters as they discover new bonds of friendship and loyalty out of the ashes of lost fame and public recognition.

There are further performances of the production tonight and Saturday.