Reviewed by Guy Picot

A lot of us have been spending more time in our homes than usual recently; theatre maker Aviva Pressman is no different. Luckily, Pressman lives in the house she grew up in so every room contains memories of her storied family, memories that she shares with us in this intimate and timely one-person virtual show. Like all good stories, it starts on the bathroom floor. The overall feel is akin to an audio book, but with added visuals.

A talented artist, Pressman draws while talking, producing representations of the people and things she’s describing as she leads us through her house of memories, a device that pays off nicely at the end of the the piece. The stories themselves are deeply personal, but add up to something that should resonate with all of us: I am who I am because of these people and experiences.Born into a prominent Jewish family (her grandfather was a celebrated rabbi), Pressman deftly takes us through her passage from precocious daughter to end-of-life carer with candor and grace, her bright energy constantly re-assuring us that however harrowing the events being described might seem, things will turn out okay.”Safer at home” has been a body-blow to small theatre, but Deadlift makes a virtue of the current conditions, and taps into a zeitgeist that bubbles beneath the surface of people wanting things to get “back to normal”. We have had time to think about who we are, and what is important to us beyond the material and career goals we were pursuing in the Before Times.

Directed unobtrusively by Zandi Carlson, Deadlift utilizes Pressman’s many gifts without ever seeming to be a showcase. Her singing is merely glimpsed through a couple of casual throw-aways but was thrilling nonetheless. The piece comes from a place of “This is for you” rather than “Look at me”, a rare and welcome quality for a one-person show. 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

DeadliftClassic Repertory Theatre
Storyteller Aviva PressmanDirected by Zandi Carlson

Presented by Local Classic Repertory in Beverly Hills, Deadlift is available live and on demand until Wednesday Oct 7.