Earlier this year I had the pleasure of watching Melbourne playwright Alexander Dymalovski’s debut play, titled Mor(t)ality, and it honestly blew me away. It was tense, well-written and a breath of fresh air for the Melbourne theatre scene. It was obvious from that production that Dymalovski was an immense talent that was already writing well and truly beyond his age of just 18-years-old.
It was for that reason that last night, I attended his sophomore production, titled Jan Pedinski: Barely Live, with such high hopes. Now, sometimes this can be dangerous and to be honest, kind of unfair to the playwright because as a critic, it feels like you are setting yourself up disappointment. However, I was on the right track because I left the show realising that when it comes to theatre, Dymalovski is even bigger talent than I had previously thought.
Jan Pedinski: Barely Live is a one woman – or should that be a one man show? See, not only did Dymalovski write this play but he also transforms into Jan Pedinski, a seventy-twelve years young Jewish woman, on stage right in front of the audience under the watchful eye and direction of Ned Harper Stanford.
The acting ability to do that is something phenomenal as Dymalovski knows the character so well that he totally becomes her. At times during the production, he is looking you right in the eye as he delivers the line yet inside your head you are telling yourself that you are watching and listening to an elderly woman. There is a certain kind of magic and illusion to what he does on the stage right in front of you.
Then there is the power of the writing of this show as well which is a special kind of brilliance just on its own. As a character, Pedinski draws you into her life at first delivering laughs about things such as a crush on Ted Danson and some of the more comical things that she has had to do as an ‘adult-performer.’
But there among the laughs, suddenly the production takes on a much darker and serious tone as revelations about the sexual abuse and assault that people in her life have been through are shared, and some of the sadder and more depressing moments of Pedinski’s life are brought to the surface. For a writer, to be able to switch between these emotions so well is unique and the fact that they can take the audience on such a deep emotional journey as well, makes Dymalovski a very special kind of genius.
Jan Pedinski: Barely Live is well-worth the visit. Be prepared to laugh and be prepared to cry because together Ned Harper Stanford and Alexander Dymalovski are going to take you on an emotional journey of unexpected brilliance.
Jan Pedinski: Barely Live is playing at The Rubber Chicken as part of the 2022 Melbourne Fringe Festival from the 19th of October to the 22nd.
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