THE CEMETERY CLUB by Ivan Menchell
Directed by Julie Tickner
In this delightful comedy, three Jewish widows and lifelong friends meet once a month for tea before going to visit their husband’s graves. Ida is sweet tempered and ready to begin a new life. Lucille is a feisty embodiment of the girl who just wants to have fun and Doris is priggish and judgmental, particularly when Sam enters the scene. He meets the widows while visiting his wife’s grave. Doris and Lucille squash the budding romance between Sam and Ida. They are guilt stricken when this nearly breaks Ida’s heart.
The Cemetery Club has moments of pathos, moments of comedy and some great, fast-paced witty one-liners. For example, we see the three ladies getting ready to be bridesmaids (“We’ve never missed one of Selma’s weddings”) and coming back afterwards tipsy. Overall it is a “feel good” play which some may remember from the 1993 film.
Four ladies “of a certain age” (meaning 50s to 60s). One similarly mature gentleman. They are New York Jewish with all the lively exuberance that suggests!
IDA – who lost her husband Murry two years ago, is starting to be ready to move on to the next stage in her life.
DORIS – is doggedly faithful to her late husband, Abe, and four years on still cannot envisage a life without him. She finds it hard to understand how her friends have come to terms with widowhood.
LUCILLE – is loud, brash and able to see new opportunities now she has outlived her unfaithful husband, Harry, and their flawed marriage.
MILDRED – appears (briefly) as the “cuckoo in the nest” in the developing relationship between Ida and Sam. Her unexpected presence helps to show the friends just how much Ida and Sam mean to each other.
SAM – the gentlemanly local butcher is an acquaintance of Ida and Doris, whom they meet again by chance at the cemetery. He is now starting to date after the loss of his wife, Merna, but is finding it hard not to compare everyone to her.