Isabella Fehlandt & Ben Grinberg
The Philadelphia Artists’ Collective in partnership with the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts is presenting the Philadelphia Premiere of He Who Gets Slapped at the Broad Street Ministry, 315 S. Broad Street, through April 16. This collaboration has created a distinctive production of Walter Wykes’ adaptation of Leonid Andreyev play. The ensemble cast trained for months to master their own circus techniques. While the actual lion taming (Annete Kaplafka as Xena) occurs off stage, as do the performances on horses (Isabella Fehlandt as Consuelo with Ben Grinberg as Bezano), the actors, portraying circus members, engage in impressive acts of acrobatics and slapstick directly in front of the audience. In one scene Xena asks Bezano to be her lion and he leaps through a hoop as lithe as a circus cat. In addition to the kazoos played by clowns Paulie (Andalyn Young and Wally ( Josh Totora), ensemble members play the piano, guitar, trumpet, drums and other percussion instruments to set the mood of the moment. Ross Beschler gives an outstanding performance as HE, the tormented soul who longs to bury his identity and the mournful past that goes along with it by becoming a circus clown. Although his performance is masterful throughout, his mirroring of The Baron in the second act has the audience in stitches. Ringmaster Papa Briquet, (Bob Weick) entertains with a flick of a hat; Brian McCann is so convincingly pompous and depraved as Count Mancini that you might want to get up and give him a slap. While circuses are generally gleeful affairs, this play is rather dark, but a beautifully choreographed fantasy sequence removes the sting. Tickets are on sale by calling 215-551-1543 or visiting www.philartistscollective.org. Get yours now to become part of this unique experience.