FOUR generations of the Pszeszekowski family gather for an evening of laughs in Dr Jack Felman’s latest comedy, You’re Driving Me Crazy! which premiered at Chapel Off Chapel on August 27.
The show stars Felman, Lena Fiszman and Allen Brostek and follows in the footsteps of their previous hit shows from the past 15 years, Laugh Till You Cry, Don’t Teach Me – I’m Perfect and 2010’s Born Guilty.
In You’re Driving Me Crazy! great-grandparents Mania (Fiszman) and Velvel Pszeszekowski (Felman) are trying to understand the behaviour of their son Allen (Brostek) and their other children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in an ever-changing world.
Felman has spent many months working on the script, often refining it during a lunchtime break at his McKinnon surgery.
“The initial title for this play was Moving On, but when I looked at the script again I realised that everyone was driving everyone else crazy!” he says.
“My play is an observation of what goes on in the community and in our lives on a daily basis.
“Some families are lucky enough to have four generations alive, so this time I decided to become my parents’ generation of Holocaust survivors and include the great-grandchildren.”
Felman, who has six grandchildren, says he likes to include Yiddish words in the show, even though they may need translating for the audience.
“I’m trying to preserve a certain feeling of Yiddish – my parents’ generation always used Yiddish words in conversation,” he says.
“I find it incredibly sad that after 1000 years of Jewish culture the language of the shtetl is disappearing.”
Felman is pleased that his shows also appeal to a non-Jewish audience.
“I write from a Jewish perspective but it does have a universal appeal.”
Felman has been entertaining audiences for more than 40 years. He first achieved fame with his creation of the Bubba, a character he created out of a multitude of bubbas he has met and known. About 15 years ago he created Zaida Velvel and teamed up with Fiszman and Brostek.
Felman says he likes to keep revising his script for months before each show’s opening, even during the rehearsal period.
“I’m constantly making changes as I refine the script, to the horror of Allen and Lena. But there are no egos between us; we work well together.
“I’m proud of the fact that I’ve written the script; and even if I was not in the show I would get just as much pleasure out of watching it being performed.”
You’re Driving Me Crazy! is at Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran from August 27 to September 7. Bookings: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au.
REPORT by Danny Gocs
PHOTO: (from left) Lena Fiszman, Allen Brostek and Jack Felman in You’re Driving Me Crazy!.