Aldersgate Church Community Theater presents Ivan Menchell’s The Cemetery Club, a touching comedy-drama about moving forward after a loss. Ruben Vellekoop leads a talented cast in this special production, a perfect choice for a night out with the girls.
Every month, longtime friends Ida (Patricia Nicklin), Lucille (Kathy Ohlhaber) and Doris (Janice Zucker) get together for tea and a chat before visiting their husbands at the cemetery. It’s a long-standing tradition, although it’s becoming clear that a few of them are ready for a change.
Lucille is young at heart and wants to go out and have fun—it’s obvious that these visits have been bothering her for a while now. Ida feels conflicted; she feels ready to move on and deals with the guilt and hesitation that comes with it. Doris, however, remains as devoted to her late husband as ever, bringing pruning shears to lovingly tidy up her land while chatting as if he were sitting right next to her. As the women find themselves in different stages of their grief, their bond becomes a little shaken as judgment and resentments creep in. Things get worse when Ida meets Sam (Kirk Lambert) and her friends get a little overprotective.
I enjoyed all the performances. The ladies all worked well together, and each brought distinctive qualities to their characters. Janice Zucker is dry but charming as Doris, cracking witty banter at her friends as she unloads stolen chicken wings from her purse. Kathy Ohlhaber laughs a lot as Lucille, a woman desperate to regain her youth (and looks a little silly trying), and Patricia Nicklin is brilliant as Ida, the stable, no-nonsense friend. who often serves as a mediator in quarrels between the other two. . Kirk Lambert does a good job as Sam, a widower himself who is also trying to navigate life without his wife. There are a lot of very funny moments in this show, but also a lot of poignant moments. Ohlhaber in particular has a moving and cathartic scene that is particularly well done, and I’m sure it will stick with me for quite some time.
Since The Cemetery Club is dialogue-oriented, most of the action takes place in a setting. Because the technical team only has to worry about one space, it is obvious that they spend a lot of time and effort on it. Decorator Charles Dragonette creates a lovely living room, built by Julie Fisher and her team. The headstones sit in the foreground of the scene and lighting by JK Lighting and Cleo Potter highlights them wherever needed. There were a few sound glitches during my performance, but they weren’t too distracting, and I’m confident the issue has since been resolved. Overall, the production team does a great job creating a foundation for the story to unfold.
As The Cemetery Club is a story of older widows, the audience for this play is quite specific. However, it’s a poorly kept secret that a lot of our entertainment isn’t specifically aimed at older women. This one is, and it’s a special piece about friendship and heartbreak and their effects on our lives. Tell your mum to take her friends to a performance of Aldersgate Church Community Theater The Cemetery Club; they will have a good time.
Duration: Two hours, including a 15-minute intermission.
The Cemetery Club plays through April 10, 2022 at Aldersgate Church Community Theater—1304 Collingwood Road, Alexandria VA. Tickets ($15 to $18) can be purchased in line.
COVID safety: A mask is required to cover the mouth and nose at all times in the Aldersgate United Methodist Church building. Seats will be socially distanced. Check back here to see if this policy has been updated before attending a performance.