Culture alert! It's only 7th January and already I have seen a play. This makes this, with extrapolation, the most highbrow year I've ever had, although my presence at a karaoke evening next week means that statistic is already tottering on the omnipresent ice.
The play that I saw last night was in fact a) two plays and b) not so much two plays as two one-man dramatic monologues. Hey! They have names, you know! The Stefan Golaszewski Plays, Stefan Golaszewski Speaks About A Girl He Once Loved and Stefan Golaszewski Is A Widower; written and performed by Stefan Golaszewski, both a talented bloke and a boon to every theatre critic with a word quota to fill and few ideas to fill it. Stefan Golaszewski is someone I know through being one quarter of the Cowards - seek out their stuff on BBC4 if it is repeated again, although I know not if they still operate as a foursome due to their successful solo careers, which is a great shame for Coward-lovers who I will herefore refer to as Cowardly Custards because I am a linguistic genius - and also because Stefan Golaszewski is a college friend of a friend of mine, of which more later.
So, The Stefan Golaszewski Plays. (I'm sorry. I just love the challenge of typing his name. Try it! Stefan Golaszewski. It feels like your fingers are doing some kind of triple Salko) I can't give a particularly incisive review, seeing as the last time I saw a play I caught a lollipop thrown from stage by a cow, but I thought it was pretty damn good. The first play is the first-person description of an 18-year-old Stefan Golaszewski...OK, OK, SG...hopelessly falling for a gorgeous woman that wanders into his line of vision in a pub, eats his pork scratchings, inspires majestic poetry of the soul and then shits on his heart, as gorgeous women are wont to do. Having made every woman in the audience (ahem) fall madly in love with him, he returns after the interval as the 76-year-old SG - recently widowed, looking back on his life, in turns rueful, giddy with happy memories, and snarling with bitterness, with few flashes of the innocent, sensitive kid of the first play. And every woman in the audience (AHEM!) falls madly straight back out again. Some beautiful visual touches, too, in a mostly wordy experience. A suitcase full of yeses in various languages showered over the audience in response to the gorgeous woman asking for a kiss; an unending parade of parcels bought for a cold and distant wife, thrown to the ground in exasperation. The second play didn't get the critical acclaim of the first when they were performed separately, but I slightly preferred the second one, which probably shows how much I know.
So far so great. What about awkward? Well, this is a bit that both intensified and awkwarded-up the Stefan Golaszewski experience. As I mentioned, SG is acquainted with my theatre-going pal, let's call him The Bo, and due to the scrummy intimateness of the venue - The Bush Theatre in Shepherd's Bush, less a theatre and more a box with some benches on three sides - plus the popularity of the play and the lateness of our feet, we were left to sit right at the front, in full Stefan Golaszewski view. As he clocked The Bo, who he had not seen for a good long while, there may have been the teensiest of pauses, but an object of professionalism, SG ploughed on regardless. (Although what would he do? Fall to his knees sobbing? Angrily demand we get out? Thought not.) But as the plays went on, there were quite a few moments when he directed stuff straight at us. Both of us. Which included me. (Hang on, let me just put that narcissism alarm that's blaring on mute - it's gonna be going for a while...) He's quite the intense performer, is Stefan Golaszewski, and fantastic with it. But it did mean that as I stared, mesmerised, at him in full ranting flow, and he suddenly looked directly at me and screamed the killer line right in my face, it was...awkward. I didn't know what to do. I tried to hold his glare but I couldn't, so I dropped my eyes to the floor and twisted my paper yeses round and round until they were razor-sharp spears.
Then I poked his eyes out.
Obviously not. And obviously he wasn't looking at me, rather through me, and obviously it was just a coincidence of eyeline, but I do thoroughly recommend the front-row challenge, if you ever see The Stefan Golaszewski Plays. It meant it definitely made more of an impact on me than if I was tucked away in a corner. And obviously I am now composing a one-woman play about a freakish loon who goes to see a one-man play and sits at the front and reads far too much into the experience and ends up destroying the man's life, who then recovers his life by writing a one-man play about a woman who went to see his one-man play and *explosion of meta*
CONCLUSION: Play very good. Stefan Golaszewski fun to type. I still bit fruit-looped. End.
Update: just realised here, two days later, the massive inconsistency of my Stefan Golaszewskis. Goleszewski, Golaszewski. Let's call the whole thing off. Anyway, all misspellings now spelt correctly. I should probably fire myself.