Monday, April 22, 2013

Millbrook: "The Cemetery Club"

Murray, Henry, and Alec have been dead for some time, but their widows meet once a month at their gravesites to "talk" with their husbands -- a form of grieving that seems to get them through life's tough spots. -- With a combination of humor and pathos, Ivan Menchell's The Cemetery Club shows the attempts of each of these women to move on with their lives...or they reveal some secrets and behaviors that touch matters many of us face.

The Millbrook Community Players, under the direction of Fred Neighbors, interpret Menchell's predictable and sometimes lackluster script with a degree of comfort that has audiences reflecting on the truths about human nature it depicts: petty jealousies and misunderstandings that can only be accepted and forgiven by long-time friends.

Lucille [Tracey Quates], reminiscent of Blanche Devereaux from television's The Golden Girls, is on the surface a self-centered sexpot bedecked in mink, unabashedly flirting with men and bragging of her conquests, while beneath this fragile veneer is a damaged woman whose husband cheated on her.

Doris [Pamela Trammell] finds solace in her frequent visits to her husband's grave, so much so that the others are concerned about her well being. While Lucille intends to resign from this "cemetery club" where "half the members are dead", and Doris is criticized for overdoing it on the fourth anniversary of her husband's death by grieving "as if it was yesterday", she refuses to move on; and she hides the fact that she is sick.

Ida [Margaret White], on the other hand, wonders if there isn't something more to life than tea parties or being a bridesmaid at her daughter's umpteenth wedding, so when long time friend and local butcher Sam [John Chain] shows up, she is inclined to take a chance with him, only to be thwarted by Doris and Lucille who don't want her to "settle for the first man who comes along".

Sam is a nice guy, and though he doesn't want to hurt Ida and backing off at the other women's insistence, he shows up at the wedding with Mildred [Vicki Moses] whose haughtiness drives the other women to drink.

Mr. Neighbors has his actors tell their stories clearly, and we do get involved in their lives. He wisely chose to not have them attempt New York accents, but a more purposeful and energetic pace, stronger vocal projection, and additional movement in staging the action might add some zing to the proceedings.