BWW Review: Theatre Artists Studio Presents THE CEMETERY CLUB
Women live longer than men, wives live longer than husbands. (Statistically speaking.) With consequences and questions that weigh on their hearts and minds. How does one hold true to one's lost love? How long the grieving? What comes next? Is letting go and moving on betrayal or liberation?
Ida (Marney Austin), whose living room is the promontory for the trio's monthly ritual of cemetery visitations, is eager (and anxious) to kickstart her life out of idle. Doris (Marcia Weinberg), stoic and staid, reverently maintains fidelity to remembrance of a life past. Lucille (Pamela Fields), on the other hand, is flagrant in her desire to crash the future with fashion and flirtation.
The tie that binds the three ~ their shared grief and condition ~ unravels after a chance meeting at the cemetery with Sam the butcher (Al Benneian). No gigolo is he (not by a long shot) but behind his apron there lurks a man on the lookout for love. Turns out the graveyard has been a convenient setting for new matchups! And, in this instance, he and Ida connect and embark upon a budding romance.
Mourning becomes electric when Doris and Lucille connive to sabotage Ida's relationship by matching him with Mildred (Barbara Acker), a glamorous and merry widow.
Menchell's script is intelligent and clever, loaded with clever barbs and sentimental moments that Austin, Weinberg, and Fields deliver with conviction and polish. If the pacing on opening weekend seemed slow, I'm guessing that's because director Fields had to step in at the last moment to fill Lucille's role. That will, I am sure, self-correct as this formidable cast moves forward to share this tale of love and hope.
THE CEMETERY CLUB runs through September 17th at The Studio in Scottsdale.
Photo credit to Theatre Artists Studio