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Stefan Golaszewski
Is A Widower

World Premiere of new play by Stefan Golaszewski

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
6 30 August 2009

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Cast List
  
Performed by Stefan Golaszewski
 

Directed and designed by Phillip Breen
Lighting designed by Tina MacHugh
Produced by Richard Jordan Productions Ltd in association with CKP and United Agents
   



Selected Reviews

THE LIST

by Miles Fielder
 
Follow-up to mercurial performer’s 2008 Fringe hit
The multi-talented writer, actor, comedian and musician follows his award-winning one-man show Stefan Golaszewski Speaks About a Girl He Once Loved with a second monologue that tackles a similar subject, though from a very different perspective. Where the previous play concerned a teenage London lad – loosely based on the author – who fell head-over-heels for a girl who then dumped him two days later, the new one is about an old man who looks back over the years of his ruinous marriage two years after his beloved wife died in the year 2054.
 
The futuristic setting allows Golaszewski to pepper his bittersweet narrative with humorous asides about the fate of the Olympics, global warming and Iraq. Meanwhile, the main narrative once again swings back and forth from ecstasy to agony in a series of superbly performed crescendos.
 
Given the new narrative perspective, however, this is a much darker show than the one that wowed Fringe audiences last year. And having a narrator who’s a swine rather than a charmer makes it a less comfortable experience, though not one that should put people off buying a ticket.
 
 
METRO

by Alan Chadwick
A tale of love and loss
 
Part of comedy sketch troupe Cowards, Stefan Golaszewski caused a splash at last year's Fringe with his debut one-man play, Stefan Golaszewski Talks About A Girl He Once Loved, which dealt with fleeting first love. 
 
This year he's moved from The Pleasance to The Traverse. If he was worried about sharing house room with the likes of Mark Ravenhill or Dennis Kelly he needn't be. His latest show is a wonderfully unsettling look at ageing, love, power and parental loss, in which he turns in a stunning performance. 
 
Like last year, it's a one-man monologue – albeit this time an altogether darker one. The year is 2056 and Golaszewski is a 76-year-old widower looking back on his marriage and 20-year career as a TV star on The Bill. Starting with a description of his wedding day and marriage to his 'dumpling', whom he met in 2012, Golaszewski captures the sights, sounds and sheer joy of it all in vivid description (their sex life, too), then moves on to the bitter aftermath of losing a child, to devastating effect. 
 
Played out on a small white square with Golaszewski also dressed in a white suit, his character crackles with arrogant charm before becoming a much more clingy, threatening prospect: one unforgettable moment comes when, in a slow burning rage, he begins throwing on to the stage colourfully wrapped presents he gave to his wife as justification of his love. 
 
 
FEST

by Ben Judge
 
Stefan Golaszweski has had a good year. His debut production, Stefan Golaszewski Speaks About A Woman He Once Loved was a major hit at the 2008 Fringe, took a Fringe First Award, toured internationally, enjoyed a successful off-Broadway run and is now in development to be made into a feature film. So, naturally, his Edinburgh return is being studied with interest.
 
This year’s offering Stefan Golaszewski Is A Widower is a faux semi-autobiographical monologue projected some forty years into the future. It is the story of Golaszewski’s most significant relationship and is, at times, bracingly beautiful. Set in 2056 (but save for a few references to non-existent super-technology, is effectively timeless) this is a powerful melodrama, in which a perfect relationship crumbles under the strain of unbearable tragedy. 
 
But for a fleeting moment, …Is A Widower looks like it could be an utter turkey. We set our scene in a church (“who gets married in a church, these days?”) on Golaszewski’s wedding day. We’re entering the third decade of the 21st century and everything is lovely. Too lovely. Golaszewski describes a picture perfect scene so saccharine, so sickly sweet, as to be wholly unreal. Smacking of lazy schmaltz and bordering on cliché, this opening segment gives little indication of the emotional depth of events to come.
 
Golaszewski is a commanding stage presence, a near-spitting image for The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers. His is a nuanced, vibrant performance whose great strength is in its narrative: which makes it profoundly difficult to adequately praise …Is A Widower without revealing too much. 
 
 
THREE WEEKS

 
Golaszewski is the star at the centre of his glitter ball, single-handedly holding a captivated audience in his palm. You never feel crushed, though; only cared for. The play is an insight into the wonderful incomprehensibility of love. It simultaneously makes you believe in real love and want to hold it at arm's length with the most extreme caution. The protagonist's refreshing depiction of sex is endearing and he explains that at one point he had a "constant semi" for his wife. I confess I had a constant theatrical semi throughout this show. His wife was called Pudding and he thought she was sweet; this show is fantastic and I'd have it instead dessert any day.
 
 
LOTHIAN LIFE

by Ros McKenzie

Last year Stefan Golaszewski was a Fringe First Award winner with his play at the Pleasance Stefan Golaszewski Speaks About a Girl He Once Loved. This year he has moved to the Traverse, and keeping to the personal theme, but definitely not autobiographical, he projects himself forward to the year 2056 to talk about his wife, who died in 2054. He describes a life of passionate intensity with the woman he meets in 2012, a life of tenderness, laughter and sharing, yet a life tinged with tragedy that may not have been quite so rapturous for the woman he calls “Pudding”. This is his personal viewpoint, and in the background are quiet hints of the future world he is living in. His hour long performance is a remarkable tour de force, subtle, intense, with an amazing depth of insight about age and regret. His writing is poignant and beautiful, his performance measured and assured. Last year’s success seems certain to be repeated.
 
 
THE STAGE
by Gerald Berkowitz
 
In 2008 Stefan Golaszewski wrote and performed a monologue about a girl he may have known years ago and the life they might have led. This year he projects himself into the future, imagining a fictional Stefan in 2056 thinking about the wife he lost after 40 years together.
 
As the widower grieves and relishes the warm memories, hints creep in – activities not shared, dislike of her friends, resentment of an old boyfriend – that things were never as rosy as he likes to believe, or wants us to believe.
 
Sustaining that double vision is the core of Golaszewski's monologue and, though it occasionally wavers, the portrait of a cold and bitter man that ultimately emerges is chilling, as when he actually gets satisfaction from her terminal illness because it means she is completely dependent on him.
 
Surrounding this central picture are other pleasures, as the speaker makes casual topical references to what is to us the future, demonstrating that the author has imagined an entire world around his characters, and as he creates verbal images of striking beauty or power – recalling the bride's entrance at their wedding, he says: "Like birds surprised by a gun, everyone stood."
 
As a performer Golaszewski does full justice to his writing, maintaining the cheery, confident image of the public man while guiding us behind the façade to glimpses of the ugliness beneath.
 


 

Stefan Golaszewski. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Stefan Golaszewski. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Stefan Golaszewski. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Stefan Golaszewski. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Stefan Golaszewski. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Stefan Golaszewski. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Stefan Golaszewski. Photo © Pete Le May
   
  

 

 

 
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