As five very accomplished actors performed Ivan Menchell’s THE CEMETERY CLUB on Friday night, the rain was pelting the roof. This only added to the intimacy of the production, which works beautifully on Playcrafters’ small stage. Due to the totally natural performances, I, as an audience member, felt like I was a fly on the wall eavesdropping on friends.
Directed by Chip Breithaupt, this is the story of three Jewish widows from Queens who go to visit their husbands’ graves each month. The opening scene at Ida’s house does a wonderful job of introducing us to the characters, as each woman is dealing with her grief in a vastly different way. Ida (Loretta Lucy Miller) is coming to terms with the fact that she may not want to be part of this “club” for much longer, realizing that having friends and family is just not enough for her anymore. She wants to “be” with someone. Lucille (Bev Smith) is the comic relief of the play, attempting to chase as many men as she can to make up for the damaged relationship she had with her husband. Doris (Jean Laustsen) wants absolutely no part of “getting on with her life”, preferring to grieve for her husband as if his death was just yesterday (when in actuality, it has been four years). When they meet Sam (Randy Knox), a widower at his wife’s gravesite, Ida begins to see a happy future, much to Lucille’s and Doris’s chagrin. But Mildred (Michelle Quigley) is, of course, there to throw a monkey wrench into Ida and Sam’s burgeoning relationship.
Miller is just luminous as Ida, giving herself over completely to the difficult role (witness her tipsy cha-cha). Lautsen’s Doris is marvelous, with excellent facial expressions, barely able to contain her disgust for how “easily” her two friends seem to move on. Smith and Knox are together again after the Forge’s hysterical DON’T DRINK THE WATER. Smith can do deadpan like nobody’s business, and Knox is very believable as a man trying to “court” again after so long. Quigley relishes her role as Mildred, standing in the way of Ida and Sam’s date night at Selma’s wedding.
THE CEMETERY CLUB has one-liners that will have you in stitches but is also a poignant reminder that life is far too short to be anything but happy. With strong performances from Miller, Smith, Laustsen, Knox, and Quigley, you can’t go wrong with this very entertaining production.
THE CEMETERY CLUB
by Ivan Menchell
Directed by Chip Breithaupt
April 18 – May 4, 2013
Playcrafters of Skippack
2011 Store Road