Review of the Cemetery Club at the Devonshire Park Theatre

LADIES – what would you do if your husband died? Cherish his memory – and his gravestone – for ever more, try and find another long-term partner, or kick up your heels and start dating up a storm?

Although the subject matter of The Cemetery Club is perhaps not the most upbeat, the play (penned by Ivan Menchell) is written as a slice of New York Jewish humour.

The three protagonists are friends who meet up regularly to visit their late husbands’ gravestones – the eponymous Cemetery Club.

There is Ida (Anita Harris) who is grappling with the idea of ‘moving on’ and finding another partner; the glamorous Lucille (Shirley-Anne Field), who seems more interested in her new fur purchases and new dalliances than her late lamented ex and Doris (Anne Charleston), who faithfully visits her husband’s grave every month and has no intention of stopping.

Anita Harris gives a fine performance as the widow who is tentatively looking to the future – and Sam (Peter Ellis) – and the ladies had chemistry together, particularly in a scene where they return tipsy from a wedding.

However, despite the occasional smart line, the pace of the play was far too turgid, the cast struggled to deliver convincing New York accents and the fairly shoddy set did the show no favours.

When the scenes shift from a front room to the graveside and back again, the producers need to spend a few quid to make the sets not only look interesting but also function properly.

Director Andrew Lynford must take responsibility for the pacing, but the actors never looked comfortable tackling the Noo Yawk humour.

Perhaps they were all distracted by concerns that the set’s front door wouldn’t work again?

The Cemetery Club is on until Saturday night, with evening performances at 7.45pm and a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Tickets cost from £13.50-£19.50, call 412000.

Laura Sonier