Not every show has to be a barnstormer. Sometimes a simple, sweet, and well-told tale is enough. And The Cemetery Club by Ivan Menchell was exactly that, speaking frankly to us of death, love, and friendship. But mostly death.
The ‘club’ consists of three old friends, Ida, Lucille, and Doris, who meet each month to visit their late husbands’ graves. The three women each have different attitudes to life without their husbands, and are at the point when a change to their monthly ritual is being considered. Then they run into another old friend at the cemetery, Samuel, the local butcher. From here, the play and the characters’ relationships enter a new chapter.
The key to the show was in the delivery, and thankfully the production was blessed with four experienced and skilled leads – Mandy Kiley, Julie Benfield, Gill Tichborne, and David White - each of an age to be credible as characters dealing with the loss of their partners in different manners.
For the most part it was a wry, sardonic sort of comedy with the occasional smattering of poignancy, until a change of pace in the second half brought with it more raucous laughter and some desperately sad moments.
The set design was simple and effective, with the action split between Ida’s sitting room and the cemetery. There was a smattering of sound effects that served to enhance the outdoor scenes, although by contrast, the blurry and rather unnecessary graveyard projection looked a bit amateurish in comparison to the rest of the production.
This smart, witty, and touching comedy is well worth a watch. The Cemetery Club continues at the Sewell Barn Theatre until the 12th August.