Stage Door Players of Atlanta Presents THE CEMETERY CLUB Review- A tale of three widows

Stage Door Players THE CEMETERY CLUB
From left to right, Karen Whitaker as Lucille, Hannah Lowther as Doris, and Ann Wilson as Ida. Photo Credit: R. Todd

Stages of Grief

In Stage Door Players’ performance of The Cemetery Club by Ivan Menchell, we meet three women, all Jewish, all friends, and all widows. They have a monthly ritual of going to visit their husbands’ graves together, though they are all in very different stages of grief. One is still heartbroken after four years, another claims to have moved on and is chasing every single geezer in sight, and the third is beginning to wonder if her remaining years might hold more than just monthly visits to the cemetery. What follows is a funny, touching, occasionally sentimental play about starting over in one’s golden years, and the possibility of new love at any age.

Deep Friendships

The friends, Doris, Lucille, and Ida, played by Hannah Lowther, Karen Whitaker, and Ann Wilson, respectively, share a deep bond of affection and shared history, as well as a playful repartee that is deftly evoked by Menchell’s writing. Ms. Wilson’s performance was particularly nuanced, combining the pain of loss with the hopefulness of loving again, all underscored by her tender devotion to her friends. Ms. Whitaker and Ms. Lowther also deliver strong performances full of pluck, wit, and charm. The relationship between the three women is very palpable in this performance.

Stage Door Players -- Blending Spaces

The action of the play takes place in only two locations, a living room and a cemetery. The direction and set design have these very different places occupying a shared space, symbolic of the prominence, in the minds of these women, of death and of the departed in their daily lives. Aside from the blending of the cemetery and the living room, the aesthetic of the performance is decidedly realist with the attention to detail of a miniaturist, even down to the glimpses of scenery and furniture visible down the halls of the house. Costumes and lighting are relatively unobtrusive, and the direction clearly aims for transparency, taking a back seat to the struggles and joys of these women.

This play will be of particular interest to anyone familiar with grief, especially those among the more mature theatre-goers. But just about anyone can appreciate the playful dialogue and warm familiarity of these women, who, in their best moments, channel some of the wry wisdom of the Golden Girls.

This having been my first visit to the Stage Door Players, I was pleased to discover an understated but solid level of craft: I look forward to sampling more of their repertoire.

When:

March 17 - April 9, 2017

Where:

Stage Door Players, 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd, Dunwoody, GA 30338

Tickets:

$15 - $30

Please visit www.stagedoorplayers.net for showtimes and tickets.

Derek Lee Barton PhD

About the Author:

Derek Barton is a performance artist, educator, and director of both film and stage productions. A graduate of Northwestern's Performance Studies doctoral program, his
work explores issues of sustainability, social justice, and artistic
intervention in public space.
 
For more on Dr. Barton, visit www.derekleebarton.com

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