The Stefan Golaszewski Plays
Stefan Golaszewski's background as a stand-up comedian is apparent in these two hour-long monologues either side of an interval.
The writer/actor's composure and ability to work an audience was apparent to everybody who saw his remarkably assured debut, Stefan Golaszewski Speaks About a Girl He Once Loved, at the Pleasance Courtyard in Edinburgh eighteen months ago. This dark-edged comedy was a very deserving winner of a coveted first week Fringe First awarded by The Scotsman.
It opens with 18-year-old Stefan joining his mates for a few beers. The one thorn in the likely lad's flesh is his pal Parry's girlfriend Jenna Louise, who one suspects, annoys our guide through the East London/Essex borders as much because he secretly fancies her as for anything that she actually does.
In a bolt from the blue reflected in neon, everything else ceases to matter when the girl of his dreams leaves our confident and loquacious hero speechless. Luckily, gorgeous Betty helps him along thanks to a shared interest in pork scratchings.
Their whirlwind romance lasts a mere 24 hours with the pub meeting succeeded by a night of texting and then an evening at Walthamstow Dogs. Such is their desire for each other, that even watching greyhounds going round and round in circles cannot dampen the couple's ardour too much.
Just when all seems to be going swimmingly, the writer introduces a shocking revelation that changes the nature of the piece and shows why it is more than just a well delivered piece of high-class comedy.
The second play, Stefan Golaszewski is a Widower, is set in 2056, a couple of years after the death of the unfortunately named Pudding.
Once again the first half is comic as the white suited Golaszewski, now a spry septuagenarian, looks back over forty years of marriage. He spices up the storytelling by throwing in a selection of technological and social developments that remain in our future.
His inventiveness is remarkable, with the audience wowed by revelations about soccer and soaps as well as those little gadgets that make life so enjoyable.
Once again, there is a shocking watershed after which nothing seems the same. In this case, a happy family is instantly transformed and humour gives way to mourning.
Stefan Golaszewski is a Widower, which was first seen in Traverse 2 this summer, does not quite have the impact of the earlier play but, after perhaps a little rewriting, it has become a worthy companion.
As an actor, Stefan Golaszewski's bold confidence in front of an audience and impeccable timing are what stand out.
As a writer, the young comedian, who appears to be a romantic at heart, has three main strengths. First, he can create extremely funny lines, secondly his writing has a poetic quality manifested in an ability to illuminate situations with highly visual images and finally his powers of observation are acute.
This means that in the first half of each play, one finds oneself nodding in agreement with many statements about the banal nothings that make up so much of our lives while, after the transformation in each case, we are left to reflect on how little control we really have over so much that we take for granted.
Stefan Golaszewski is a fine writer and excellent performer. In performing the plays back to back, he shows great stamina and, with the assistance of director Philip Breen, creates a thoroughly enjoyable and at times challenging evening.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher