Peggy Sue Dunigan

The Cemetery Club

By - Feb 26th, 2008 02:52 pm
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One is never too old to fall in love – even after the age of fifty. The Sunset Playhouse presentation of The Cemetery Club reiterates this premise as three widows, Ida, Doris, and Lucille, visit the cemetery each month to talk to and remember their deceased husbands. But two of the women feel the need to move past their spouse’s headstones to a new life. As Lucille puts it, “I want to resign. I don’t like belonging to a club where half the members are dead.”

Ivan Menchell’s play – adapted for the 1993 movie of the same name – deals with the heartache and pain of losing love, along with the change and fear of starting again. Lucille’s less-than-ideal marriage shows her acute desire to begin anew and seek the love she missed through years of married life, while friends Doris and Ida mourn the end of their happy marriages. They meet widower Sam, who visits his wife’s gravesite at the cemetery, and the comedy continues as each person’s loneliness leads to rediscovering dating, romance and how they view life moving forward.

The play was written with some very funny lines and scenes in a Jewish New York flavor, yet there is a missing spontaneity, and the setting appears somewhat dated. With the onset of internet matchmaking for divorced and widowed baby boomers, these three ‘girls’ appear far removed and out-of-touch with today’s 50-somethings moving on with their lives in the Big Apple, especially after the reality of 9/11.

Lucille is the flirty centerpiece to the club, and actress Susan Loveridge plays it broadly.Sally Marks, as Ida, is matched to James Jonas, as Sam, but the sparks sputter instead of fly. The devoted wife is Francis Klumb as Doris, “who lives with her head in the ground, still talking to the gravestone,” constantly fighting anything new while living in her memories, upset that the club is changing when Ida and Sam start a relationship.

Several poignant moments carry through the laughter, and the play has many appealing qualities, including the deft way it deals with the daily aspects of experiencing loss. A surprise event near the end emphasizes the importance of living every day and telling those significant people in life that they are loved and make a difference. But the path to love after loss, regardless of age, is filled with more magic and meaning in these contemporary confusing times than is packaged in the dialogue of this play.

This entertaining and humorous evening is billed as romantic comedy, and does deliver the comedy, as the opening night audience thoroughly enjoyed the production. There could be the promise of more meaningful relationships and romantic fire in this Sunset Playhouse production, yet The Cemetery Club communicates with hope that love does indeed last even after loss, and there remains no age or time limit to finding love again. VS

The Sunset Playhouse, 800 Elm Grove Road, Elm Grove, continues with the presentation of The Cemetery Club though March 15. For information or tickets call 262-782-4430 or visit the Sunset Playhouse online.

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