Edward Woodward easily escapes from the television roles (such as Callan and The Equaliser) playing the lonely Sam with just the right amount of pathos. We willingly share his emotions, ranging from loneliness to joy at finding a new sole mate in Ida, played with relish by his real life wife Michelle Dotrice.
Joining Dotrice as the other widows are Anne Charleston as Doris and Shirley Anne Field as Lucille. Charleston (known to us as Madge from Neighbours) has played this part already in the UK and never lets her American accent slip. While Field shows us the brash New York fun loving Lucille, whose tough exterior very quickly crumbles.
The play, written by Ivan Mitchell, was originally performed on Broadway, and strikes the right balance between comedy and tragedy, with the audience being taken on an emotional roller coaster ride. This allows us to share all the characters’ stories, so we understand when Doris and Lucille interfere in Sam and Ida’s relationship to keep their little club going, but also sympathise with Sam's confusion and pain as he agrees.
The action continually moves between Idas' living room and the cemetery but unfortunately the settings by Alan Miller Bunford do not change swiftly enough, leaving the audience waiting - the only downside to the play.
Chris Colby's direction is slick and the chemistry between his three leading ladies ensures that the comedy turns into tragedy seamlessly. The play takes the raw emotions and allows the audience to share the pain and joy of its characters and - despite the subject matter and being set for a large part in a cemetery - this is a great night’s entertainment played out by a first rate cast.
- John Dixon