The Greville Theatre Club

The Cemetery Club

by Ivan Menchell

October 2004

Directed by
Diana Bradley


Review: Hollie Darken

Greville Theatre Club's production of The Cemetery Club may have seemed like a dark subject, suitably apt for Hallowe'en, but the performance by the Little Easton group positively shone.

From the moment the curtains drew back on this endearing play by Ivan Menchell about three Jewish widows who meet once a month at their husbands' gravesides, it was evident this was going to be a night to remember. The small cast, all with the tough task of sustaining a difficult New York accent, delivered what can only be described as a brilliant performance and undoubtedly one of the best I have seen on the am-dram circuit. I would go as far to say it rated more on a professional level and I only hope that the group's appeal for more members pays off. This club should be allowed to continue flourishing with healthy support from people in the area.

The five-night run, held over two weekends, was staged within the historic Barn Theatre at Little Easton. The action was set in the living room of widow Ida's house in Forest Hills, Queens, with three manoeuvrable, ivy-covered headstones which rose up for the cemetery scenes. Very simple and very effective - especially so with a real-life thunder storm raging outside. Ida, played by Carol Parradine, was the reasoner within the group who tried to keep the peace amid the clash of personalities between the colourful and loud Lucille (Jan Ford), and the prim and proper Doris (Marcia Baldry). The three close friends, who have regularly stood by their husbands' graves ever since they departed, begin to talk about how, perhaps, it is time to move on with their lives, to end their club. Both Ida and Lucille seem ready to find love again, much to the horror of Doris, and the story, brilliantly written with sensitivity and humour, looks at how they handle this. What evolves is an emotional rollercoaster ride as these three very different women deal with bereavement, loneliness and the need for love and the arrival of widower, Sam (Rod Foster), visiting his wife's grave.

From superb delivery and comic timing of the play's many one liners to floods of tears as the trio becomes a duo at the death of Doris, this performance by all three actresses was outstanding. Rod Foster and Judy Lee, who played Mildred, the momentary love interest of Sam's, also gave sound performances.

Director Diana Bradley did a wonderful job with a strong cast behind her and everyone truly deserved the rapturous applause that, in the end, outdid the noise of the overhead thunder.