“The Cemetery Club” by Ivan Menchell
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre
"The Cemetery Club", a comedy, is a story about three Jewish widows who meet once a month for tea before going to visit their husbands’ graves. Ida is sweet tempered and ready to begin a new life. Lucille is a feisty embodiment of the girl who just wants to have fun, and Doris is stuffy and judgemental.
One day they bump into their butcher, Sam, at the cemetery, who was visiting his deceased wife's grave, and a new friendship is born.
Ida and Sam fall for each other, but the budding relationship gets squashed and compounded when Mildred, the seductress that Sam decides to bring to Selma’s wedding, particularly unnerves Ida.
I've not even seen the film so this was my first impression of the story, and what a wonderful story. There is sadness and an awful lot of laughter, and it's one of those plays that will really make you think about relationships and friendship, and what is important within a deep friendship, as these three women have forged over the years.
Melanie Hamilton (Ida) manages to reach out with this role, and while wonderfully understated, the emotions that she has been feeling and is feeling in this role really touch you.
Helen Sharp (Lucille) provides much of the comedy, but is a lovely example of how using comedy as a shield for her character's true feelings ca really make you change the way that you read a person.
Carol Parkinson (Doris) never fails to entertain me with whatever role she takes on, but this character piece really does hit home. There's a lovely balancing act with the comic one liners and the protectiveness of her friends and the loyalty to her late husband.
Nic Adams (Sam) just doesn't know what to do for the best as he grows ever closer to Ida but being warned off by Doris and Lucille, he is unaware of their well-,meaning intentions.Playing this relaxed character role is a well suited casting for Nic.
Orla Godfrey-Carter (Mildred) delivers a lovely vamp-like character, who you just know is not right for Sam, and although the character is well meaning, you just have to give a silent whoop when she disappears from the scene, leaving the door ajar for Ida to walk through.
This cast could not have been better picked and the relationships and love for the other are really believable, which is why this play is such an easy watch. This also makes some of the scenes also as breath-taking as they are.
Directed by Gill Scott, she has brought out the comedy and pathos in this story and, along with her wonderful cast, this team draw out every emotion possible fro the viewer.
The set is cleverly designed by Hugh Philip, and while I do not wish to give too much away, the transformation from Ida's living room to the cemetery is stunningly simple but amazingly effective.
Sound by Matt Allcock and Lighting by David Billen, like a well-oiled machine, they create a beautifully atmospheric feel, especially with the lighting for the scene changes. You can not really appreciate how such a, seemingly, simple change of lighting can altogether change a scene.
I am so pleases that i was not tempted to watch the film, instead opting to make this production my introduction to this wonderfully heart-warming and emotional, but highly comical play.
All the little things I have come to expect from the Lace Market have been observed, which also covers the accents. There are different strains of the Jewish accent here, but never are those accents taken over the top or standardised, as i have seen in Jewish comic roles in some other plays and TV programmes.
Although the film was made in the early nineties, the timeline could be any era and feels just as much at home set in modern day as I imagine it would when first written. After all, friendship, grief, recovery and comedy are timeless emotions, which is why this play seems as relevant now as it did when Menchell wrote it.
“The Cemetery Club” is at the Nottingham Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 2 March 2019