Peter McGarry is an experienced,
independent professional theatre critic who has agreed to
review Talisman Theatre productions.
Peter is free to express his opinions for good or ill. The
Talisman Theatre has no control whatsoever over the content
of these reviews and will not comment publicly on what he writes.
A familiar scenario? Three ageing Jewish women
bonded by widowhood, friendship of a kind and matching latter-day
lifestyles. The Golden Girls of American 80s TV live on. Or
Unfortunately, general comparisons aside, this is truly no
Golden Girls. Ivan Menchell's play evokes memories of a sitcom
that really worked in terms of abrasive humour allowing for
a feelgood factor that never sank into sentimentality. This
actually goes farther down the tragi-comic route, dividing
the piece into two contrasting sections - two-thirds comedy
and the rest more keenly-observed human drama.
It's not a bad work, but the problem here is that the actresses
only seem to find their feet as a working threesome in the
last 20 minutes or so. There seems to be almost a feeling
of relief when they are finally able to get their teeth into
the more downbeat aspects of their existence - analysing what
life has become and how they now view their past marriages
through regular visits to the cemetery and conversations with
What is really missing for most of the production is the deliberately
over-the-top edginess of the Jewish humour. Lines are delivered
too matter-of-factly so that the real comic sparks are lost
and it is hard to accept that these three would venture beyond
their local hair salon let alone make regular visits to a
Elaine Freeborn holds things together during the laboured
first half and develops the homely Ida into a stronger character
when suddenly faced with the prospect of a newly flowering
romance. But it's difficult to sense any real credibility
among the three until things turn emotional.
John Ellam's cleverly-designed set allows a New York living-room
to move aside for a cemetery with commendable ease. It becomes
an atmospheric venue for the mourning after.