Writtle Cards – The Cemetery Club Performed at Writtle Village Hall, February 16, 2015 Director – Paulette Harris
The title may be suggestive of some strange Victorian grave-robbing society to which macabre Oxbridge students belong but the reality is that this is a funny, yet moving, piece that explores the loneliness of widowhood and the different emotional reactions to new romantic beginnings. Requiring just two acting areas, Ida’s living room and the cemetery, Writtle Cards was able to create an extremely good set on-stage and a small cemetery with moveable headstones on small rostra in front of the stage. The transitions between scenes were usually linked with suitable music. It must be said that the choice of music and the quality of the sound added significantly to the overall enjoyment of the production; I have not noticed the quality of sound to be this good before and wonder whether this is the result of new equipment.
New equipment or not the key to this production was the quality of the acting, which was first class. The three lead females each had different characters and played off one another brilliantly, with pacey banter, witty asides and where necessary, long pauses. Positioning on this small stage was excellent, so that there was never a problem with sight-lines and the audience could always see the facial reactions of the whole cast. The accents were sufficiently good to transport us to the US and there was also sufficient Jewishness to allow us to immerse ourselves in the unique humour without feeling like outsiders. Despite an underlying tinge of sadness throughout the play – the starting point was that all the characters had experienced the loss of a partner – the over-riding emotion was that of optimism and hope for the future. This was most obvious with Ida, sensitively portrayed and beautifully pitched by Liz Curley, whose burgeoning relationship with Sam Katz, wonderfully played by Daniel Curley, was one of the consistent plotlines. Steph Edwards’ gloriously vampish Lucille provided a plotline of ostentatious flirtation but only revealed at the end her deep hurt at her betrayal by husband Harry while being, in reality, still bound by the rules of spousal loyalty and faithfulness that each character is wrestling with. Sharon Goodwin captured the ultra-loyal Doris to the end, loyal to her dead husband and loyal to her friends. This was a wonderful evening, funny and sad, thought-provoking and entertaining all at the same time, surely one of the best productions I have seen at Writtle Cards. Congratulations to all, including the directorial debut from Paulette Harris and acting debut from Dee Irons.
Reviewer Stewart Adkins
Regional Representative – District 8