As a member of Cowards Stefan Golaszewski always seemed adept at filling any role where a wide-eyed innocent was required (overlooking the fact he also plays an outstandingly boorish Henry VIII). However tonight, as he performs his Edinburgh Fringe plays back-to-back, he shows there’s much more to him than that. With the possible exception of Daniel Kitson, his shows are unlike any other ‘comedy’ performance you could currently hope to see.
Stefan Golaszewski Speaks About A Girl He Once Loved has already gone from Edinburgh to Off Broadway and, if reports are to be believed, to Hollywood for the movie makeover treatment. It’s a self-explanatory title telling the story of a one-day teenage love affair. Full of neat touches – props, music and recorded conversations are all used to great effect. Coupled with Golaszewski’s faux-18 year old demeanour, he perfectly captures the turbulent ups and downs of that first real teen love.
Stefan Golaszewski Is A Widower is in many ways a perfect follow-up, another tale of lost love, only this time we’re in 2056 and Stefan is 76, looking back on the life he had with his, recently deceased, wife. It perhaps lacks the laughs (his matter of fact references to 2056 get some mixed results) and optimistic outlook that the audience gets with Speaks… but when you’re 76 perhaps that’s how he predicts our love lives inevitably become? Heavier it may be but as a piece of theatre it’s none the worse for it.
It’s a testament to Golaszewski as a writer that he has put together two funny if totally heart-wrenching shows. As an actor he demonstrates he can go way beyond wide-eyed innocence, giving strong, measured performances, full of poignancy and pathos as well as humour. At a time when so much comedy is focused on ‘edginess’ and the ability to offend (and the tabloid witch hunts that go with it) it’s great to know that, with acts like Golaszewski and Kitson, we’ll always have the romantics.