The Cemetery Club
When a play with the title The Cemetery Club opens this time of year, you expect a pre-Halloween mystery thriller. Instead, Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre gives us a pleasant, lightweight comedy about a trio of New York Jewish widows who meet once a month to visit their husbands’ graves.The three longtime friends are in various stages of widowhood, both in years and in outlook. Ida (Susan Madden) is the central character. She’s been a widow for two years but is ready to move on with her life. There’s Doris (Georganne Wallace), widowed for four years, though it might as well be a week when it comes to her obsession with her dead husband. And finally, we have the flamboyant gal-about-town Lucille (Paula Campanella), who is making the most of her newfound singlehood.
The women have been gathering monthly at the cemetery to honor their husbands and reminisce about old times, all the while kvetching about life, love and loneliness. They duel each other with clever, catty repartee, bantering about their hopes and dreams. However, it soon becomes clear that these outings are wearing thin when Lucille announces, “I refuse to be in a club where half the members are dead.”
The Cemetery Club is non-offensive and not very deep. There are no big messages, just some funny moments. Supposedly, these are women in their 50s, but they act like they’re in their 70s and living in another time. Although the play debuted in 1990, it feels like a segment of The Golden Girls. It’s a fun diversion but, as they say in New York, no big whoop.