Review: The Cemetery Club

Posted on June 12, 2015 | in Reviews | by

The Cemetery Club

A poignant and heart-warming comedy.

The Bovey Tracey Players presented ”The Cemetery Club” By Ivan Menchell at Bovey Tracey Town Hall 27″‘ – 30″‘ May.

Coming after the wacky and anarchic ”Sherlock Holmes and the Giant Gnomes”, the Players Spring production is by contrast a gentle and thoughtful observation on the nature of bereavement, grief and the difficulty experienced in moving on after the passing of a loved one.

The play focuses on the lives of Ida, Lucille and Doris, three Jewish Widows in 19805 New York who have formed themselves into the titular club by meeting once a month for lunch before heading off to tend to their late husband’s graves.

The status quo is threatened however when Ida begins a tentative romance with Sam, another local widower.

Directed by Freda Wilson, a stalwart of the amateur theatre scene, this was a polished production well up to the Players usual high standard with a simple and effective set which alternated between Ida’s modest apartment and the local cemetery with lighting and sound restrained as befitted the tone of the play.

Jenny Connelly, as Ida, gave a wonderfully understated performance as a woman desperate to move on in her life but wracked with guilt and the thought of doing so.

Kirsty Munro’s Lucille was entertainingly larger than life but conveyed the sense of heartbreak that was obviously just under the surface.

Margaret White (in her acting debut) was a delight as the prim and ”buttoned-up” Doris refusing to relinquish the memory of the husband she loved so much. Terry Nickels gave a sweet natured and sympathetic performance as Sam and the scenes between he and Ida as their uncertain romance started to blossom were highlights of the production.

And finally Helen Drinkall as Mildred, another of Sam’s ”admirers”, whose appearance was all too brief, was very funny as a gleeful but totally unwitting fifth wheel.

An excellent script, all witty one liners, backhanded compliments, and pithy put downs, was done justice by the cast, maintaining convincing American accents throughout, and engaged the audience right from the beginning through to the bittersweet but ultimately optimistic denouement.

The front of house team was uniformly excellent, as we have come to expect from a Players production and the slick and capable backstage crew ensured everything ran smoothly on stage.

If this is to be, as believed, the Players final performance in the Bovey Tracey Town Hall before it is sadly sold then they can at least take comfort that they are leaving this particular space on a high.

An excellent production and congratulations to all concerned.

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