One Last Card Trick, KCA Players at Pelham’s Kinson

ACTOR and playwright Stewart Permutt’s play One Last Card Trick is a delightfully humorous, poignant and beautifully-observed study of a failing community.

Chosen by KCA Players for their final production of 2019, and sensitively directed by Steve Watton, it is the story of three elderly Jewish wo­men whose weekly tradition is to meet at their synagogue and play Kaluki.

The dependable and organising Sophie, the impoverished Hetty and the wealthy Magda have been friends for years, able to look back 60 years to their youth, when each started out with next to nothing. All are widows who depend on each other for support, frequently rehearsed spats and companionship.

The score-keeper for their games is Loretta, a childlike 47-year old whose mother has recently died, and forwhom Sophie, Hetty and Magda all feel responsible.

News that the synagogue and shul are about to be sold throws them into despair, and, when all other efforts fail, they barricade themselves in and refuse all offers from the developers to buy them off.

The lonely Loretta begins an affair with the (married) Mr Katz, one of the synagogue’s board of management, and while Magda offers fashion and make-up tips, Hetty is appalled at the idea.

The childless Sophie keeps her counsel, but Hetty, whose stock in trade is the smutty joke, doesn’t care who knows her opinions.

This is an unusual play, in that you REALLY don’t know how it will end until it does. Its celebration of female friendships is painted with a delicate brush, providing four wonderful characters, all with a smattering of Yiddish, who offer insights into a community that started long before the Second World War and is fading as its members die off.

Carole Wilson is the heart of wisdom and strength as Sophie, with Jane Wright’s funny, deadpan and unhappy Hetty and Helen Johns’ self-deluding socialite Magda. Annie Robertson’s clumping quest for love is heartbreaking.

One Last Card Trick continues at Pelhams until Saturday 30th November.


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