Dead centre of comedy

The Cemeterry Club, Shirley Anne-Field
The Cemeterry Club, Shirley Anne-Field
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The Cemetery Club,

Devonshire Park Theatre,

The Cemetery Club, Anita Harris

The Cemetery Club, Anita Harris


You have to fully appreciate Jewish humour to really enjoy the Cemetery Club in Eastbourne this week. Ivan Menchell’s play has some very clever lines and the story centres on three Jewish widows who visit the cemetery every month to talk to their dead husband’s graves.

The first visit to the cemetery in the play is particularly poignant because it is the fourth anniversary of Doris’ husband’s death. And she takes along her best friends Lucille and Ida.

She gets very upset when Sam intrudes on their personal grief as Lucille tries to chat him up during the minute’s silence Doris calls for in memory of her husband.

Anne Charleston (of Neighbours fame) plays Doris and you can feel her passion for her dead husband, Shirley-Anne Field is well cast as the flighty Lucille who pretends she is getting over her husband’s death by playing the field.

But it is Anita Harris who stands out as Ida, the shyest of the trio who attracts the attention of local butcher Sam played by Peter Ellis. She is the easiest character to understand and relate to and you warm to her as the play progresses, wanting her to have the happiness she so deserves.

The first act drags a bit, possibly due to the curtain being lowered for the scene changes between Ida’s living room and the cemetery but it picks up pace in the second act.

This is not a play everyone will enjoy, I found it quite depressing in parts, and for women of a certain age it hits home. But it is good to have the chance to see three good actresses holding the stage. There are not many plays written for actresses over a certain age these days.

Amanda Wilkins