Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: Local Classic Repertory's DEADLIFT is Full of Humor and Heart

Local Classic Repertory's virtual play DEADLIFT features Aviva Pressman in her childhood home telling stories of life, death, and love while creating unique works of art.

Review: Local Classic Repertory's DEADLIFT is Full of Humor and Heart
Design by Melissa Campbell

Local Classic Repertory has produced a beautiful new work that is available to audiences online. Deadlift is an autobiographical story of life, death, and unconditional love. The site-specific play, which is filmed to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic, features Aviva Pressman in her childhood home. From there, Pressman gives a virtual tour of the home she grew up in and currently resides. The play is a series of scenes, all linking together the story of her life. While she tells each story, she also creates a new piece of art in each scene.

As you can imagine, growing up in a prominent Jewish family and the granddaughter of a Rabbi has given Pressman an abundance of humorous stories. Pressman tells them with a mischievous twinkle, fondly remembering the best moments from her childhood. At the same time, Pressman literally paints a picture. She also draws with charcoal and designs words and images with calligraphy. Each scene happens in various rooms in her home, starting in the bathroom, then her childhood bedroom, then finally the master bedroom. A quick tour through the hallway and dining area shows the opulent home that is so obviously full of personal history and love.

Since this production actually takes the audience into the home where many of the events happened, it brings a certain reality and immediacy to the stories Pressman tells. Pressman gives an honest and open performance in this production, and she speaks from the heart. Deadlift is full of humor, but it's also very truthful and deeply heart-wrenching at times. The focus of the play is Pressman's relationship with her dad. Pressman spent time caretaking for her father as he was slowly dying of cancer. She undertook this task largely by herself, when she was only 25 years old. Pressman seems to have processed the experience far enough to be able to talk about it. That is no doubt the result of years of healing. That healing process was undoubtedly aided by creating art- a task that fits perfectly well along with the storytelling.

Caretaking and grieving go hand in hand. They're both messy, exhausting, all-encompassing experiences. The process of healing is long and brutal at times, but it has its own beauty. Pressman reveals how strong she is as she talks about her father's death. That strength and resiliency were clearly won through the process of caretaking.

While Deadlift would certainly be beautiful if presented on stage, it's perfect as it is. Director Zandi Carlson has conquered the feat of translation. It's not a movie or even a typical social media video. Deadlift is most assuredly a solo play, a monologue that has been translated into the video age of COVID, and it feels exactly like a play. Pressman's performance is intimate. Looking into the camera gives the viewer the sense that she's looking right at them. Deadlift invites the virtual audience into Pressman's personal experiences as she narrates them, giving the viewer a gripping look into those experiences and the emotions that come with them.

Aviva Pressman is a magnetic storyteller. This memoir serves as a love letter to her family. Through the careful and thoughtful direction of Carlson and LCR's Producing Artistic director Emily Grace Smith, Deadlift is fulfilling and moving, hilarious and honest. It creates the experience of stepping into someone's home and listening to their family stories. It gives a poignant look at the realities of caretaking and how rewarding that otherwise thankless job can truly be. Sharing a burden indeed cuts it in half, and anyone who watches this play, whether they've experienced death personally or not, will feel that burden start to lift.

Deadlift runs until October 4th on Local Classic Repertory's virtual platform. For tickets and access to the show, join their online community at local-classic-repertory.mn.co.

Follow Local Classic Repertory on Instagram @localclassicrepertory.

Check out Melissa Campbell's Design store on Red Bubble.


Join Team BroadwayWorld

Are you an avid theatre goer in Oklahoma? We're looking for people like you to share your thoughts and insights with our readers. Team BroadwayWorld members get access to shows to review, conduct interviews with artists, and the opportunity to meet and network with fellow theatre lovers and arts workers.

Interested? Learn more here.





From This Author - Adrienne Proctor

Adrienne Proctor is an Oklahoma City-based writer, theatre-goer, and mom. An avid supporter of the arts, Adrienne has reviewed regional, university, and Broadway theatre productions since 2017.... (read more about this author)


Feature: 3rd Act Theatre Company announces Season 4: REGENERATE
July 26, 2022

3rd Act Theatre Company in Oklahoma City opens Season 4: REGENERATE. The first show in Season 4 is the Noire production of Cyrano De Bergerac, and stars Taylor Reich as Cyrano and Holly McNatt as Roxane. Season tickets are on sale now.

Review: Lyric Theatre Death-Drops and High-Kicks in KINKY BOOTS
July 20, 2022

Lyric opens their final production of their 2022 Summer series. KINKY BOOTS is a fun-filled romp with a message of love and self-acceptance. With book by Harvey Fierstein and music by Cyndi Lauper, this Tony winner tells the story of Charlie Price, a shoemaker with a failing business. He meets Lola and the two go into business together.

Review: Lyric Theatre's CAROUSEL Dazzles on the Civic Center stage
July 7, 2022

Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma presents a dazzling spectacle on the Civic Center stage. The second of their three summer musicals, CAROUSEL is a beautiful musical, complete with epic dance numbers and opera-level singing. The orchestra onstage adds to the romantic quality of this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic.

Review: Lyric Theatre's Summer Series returns with MATILDA: THE MUSICAL
June 22, 2022

MATILDA is a funny, irreverent story about a special young girl. Gifted with imagination and the ability to teach herself complex subjects, Matilda appeals to anyone who has the fighting spirit. Roald Dahl's beloved children's novel was adapted for the stage by Dennis Kelly, with songs by Tim Minchin. Lyric presents Matilda at the Civic Center. See what our critic thought. 

BWW Feature: UCO's Broadway Tonight presents FLIPSIDE
June 15, 2022

FLIPSIDE: The Patti Page Story celebrates its ten year anniversary production at St. Luke's downtown. Written and developed by UCO MT Dept. Head Greg White, FLIPSIDE is a celebration of the life and career of Oklahoma-born icon Patti Page. The musical features some of the best known tunes from 'The Singin' Rage, Ms. Patti Page'.