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Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008

Lonely Widows Club

Theater Reviews

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Ida,Lucille and Doris are three women who have something in common: they’re widows who’ve lost their respective husbands within a few years of one another. As members of “The Cemetery Club” they visit their husbands’ graves once a month.

There’s clean-up to do around the headstones, news to tell of weddings and grandchildren and memories rekindled along with the pain and grief that resurfaces in the remembering. Sunset Playhouse has created a warm greeting card of a production out of Ivan Menchells’ play The Cemetery Club that opened last week. And as good friends as they are, Menchell has created three very different women, setting the stage for conflict, comedic and otherwise.

Ida is the kind, sensible one, who misses her Murray while Lucille is all sassy talk and fashion flash, missing her Harry more for his bank accounts than his philandering. Doris is stoic and proper; loyal to her Abe to a fault as she desperately clings to the past while the others try to move on with their lives in their own ways.

Enter Sam the (eligible) butcher, who runs into the trio while visiting his wife’s grave and soon sets them squabbling over his affections—and romantic intentions. Director Mark Salentine keeps the pace moving amid the two hours of laughs and some sad and serious moments. Anyone who has lost a loved one and tried to move on with life will surely identify with aspects of this foursome. When Sam tries to “court” Ida leave it to Doris and Lucille to interfere with the budding romance, trying to keep the “club” intact.

The ensemble works well together, with Susan Loveridge leading the pack with her on-target portrayal of the brazen Lucille. Tough on the outside but vulnerable within, she manages a nice New York-esque accent throughout. As the judgmental Doris, Frances Klumb is so much a part of her character that it’s easy to forget she’s acting. Sally Marks grounds Ida in the common sense and practicality needed to ground the other two.

These three widows really do come off as good friends trying to make sense of their lives and the losses of their loved ones. The Cemetery Club shows that there is indeed life after death. It runs through March 15 at the Sunset Playhouse.