Philadelphia Offers Host of Quirky Theatrical Gems

e53a75d9f676f5d6170d_AE_Mask.jpg
e53a75d9f676f5d6170d_AE_Mask.jpg

PHILDELPHIA - When the American Theatre Critics Association met in Philadelphia during the month of April, there was plenty of food for thought and discussion revolving around some absorbing, ingenious plays.
One of my favorites was “He Who Get’s Slapped,” a play by Leonid Adreyev and loosely based on a 1929 movie about a wealthy man who decides to join the circus. The lead character, He, played by Ross Bechler, was totally riveting, with a maniacal laugh, a sweetly charming smile and an edge that kept the audience off balance. He is surrounded by intriguing characters, including a young girl, in love with an acrobat, but being pursued by a wealthy older man. Her father, the MC, wants her to marry him to help him out of his own debts. Other characters enter the fray, especially an attractive woman, played with sultry charm by Annette Kaplafka; a pair of pranksters, tooting their kazoo horns and others who make up the circus employees. It all takes place, more or less backstage, between the various circus acts. It was imaginative and fascinating, with perhaps a hint of Pirandello and life’s disillusionment. Director Damon Bonett brings a wealth of imagination and understanding to this strange, imaginative production.
Then we had “An Octoroon,” set in a southern plantation where a young woman admits to her would-be lover that she is one-eighth black.  Black actors don white face to play plantation owners, while others serve as maids, injecting some contemporary language into this 1850s setting. An Indian chief is on hand as well, as this flamboyant production, written by Brandon Jacobs Jenkins and directed by Joanna Settle, travels across the centuries to bring us a constantly changing immersion in past and present.  The ensemble cast brings it all vividly to life. The play originally opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York in 1859.  There were fears of riot even then, just three days after John Brown was hanged at Harper’s Ferry.
“The Nether,” which won the Primus award at the Humana Festival, was written by Jennifer Haley and directed by Seth Rozin. The Nether was a futuristic term for the internet, which featured avatars, creating scenes of conflict and love. The set was a study in contrasts, with a table and chairs in an interrogation room. But just behind it was a charming Victorian house with gardens. The past/future alternated in a dense tale of imagined lives and shifting personalities.
Another unforgettable experience was William Shakespeare’s “The Rape of Lucrece,” a one-man interpretation by Dan Hodge in the ballroom of the Courtyard Marriott Hotel. The actor’s spellbinding performance told the absorbing tale of a woman seduced and abandoned.
All this and more made for an outstanding time in the city, with the hotel located just across from Independence Hall. Philadelphia is less than two hours away and well worth a visit to its Avenue of the Arts, its museums and exciting vibe for new, refreshing theatre fare.

 

Liz Keill reviews professional theatre in the New Jersey area, ranging from the McCarter Theatre in Princeton to Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn. In addition to writing for Tapinto.net, she does theatre analysis for HometowneTV in Summit. She holds a Bachelor's in Journalism from Penn State and a Master's in Communication from Syracuse University. Liz is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, which holds seminars at regional theatres across the country as well as in New York City.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Providence

Our House 4 Miler Returns With USATF Championship Status

April 24, 2018

Our House Foundation will hold its 19th Annual Our House 4 Mile Run and 2 Mile Walk on the Village Green in Summit on May 19. This year, the 4 Mile Run is a USATF All Division Championship, offering USATF runners 700 points! The race welcomes elite athletes, the casual runner, and anyone looking to make a difference by supporting adults with disabilities!

Top Sponsors include Hope Autism ...

Sharing Strength, Giving Back: Become a Volunteer Advocate for Victims of Sexual Violence

Openings are still available in the upcoming training series for Volunteer Advocates for victims of sexual violence. The sessions are scheduled twice weekly beginning on Tuesday, May 1 and continuing until Thursday, June 14.

The training is free. No previous experience in counseling is required. Volunteer Advocates work with the professional staff at Union County’s Rape Crisis Center to ...

Free Public Panel Will Explore Sexual Assault and Consent

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders invites members of the public to attend a panel discussion on sexual assault and consent on Wednesday, April 25 at 2:00 p.m. in Room N-4 at Union County College, 1033 Springfield Avenue in Cranford. The panel will feature a question and answer session.

The panel discussion is intended to raise awareness about sexual assault and consent in ...

Politics IS Government in Union County

April 22, 2018

After Bruce Patrson of Garwood was stopped from speaking at the Union County freeholder meeting of March 22 regarding the politics behind refusing to give the party line to a sitting freeholder I thought this brazen suppression of free speech could not go unanswered. A the the April 19 meeting I answered with these comments.

After ten years of following government in Union County I conclude ...

Student Led #Rally4 Action to Protest Gun Violence Held Friday in Springfield

April 21, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Fueled partially by their disappointment that students were not allowed to leave school for the nationwide student protest last month, student leaders planned a rally Friday on the nineteenth anniversary of the Columbine massacre in Colorado. At 4:30 p.m., students, parents, families, community members met at Chisholm Community Center to register voters, make ...

Student Led #Rally4 Action to Protest Gun Violence Held Friday in Springfield

April 21, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Fueled partially by their disappointment that students were not allowed to leave school for the nationwide student protest last month, student leaders planned a rally Friday on the nineteenth anniversary of the Columbine massacre in Colorado. At 4:30 p.m., students, parents, families, community members met at Chisholm Community Center to register voters, make ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_3c7abbb40c05a3108a26_yoga_stretch

Tue, April 24, 9:15 AM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providence

Essential Hatha Yoga

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_a4801a3d56342db1596a_pilates_reformer

Tue, April 24, 9:30 AM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providence

Pilates Reformer

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_ff35ab71e957e9734489_jump_in_swim

Tue, April 24, 11:00 AM

The Connection, Summit

Jump In & Swim

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_7f6c107703df2d416aa6_barre_intesity

Tue, April 24, 5:30 PM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providenece

Barre Intensity

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_ae7b14f49101795b08ed_zumba

Tue, April 24, 6:30 PM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providence

Zumba

Health & Wellness

Tue, April 24, 7:00 PM

Cranford Community Center, Cranford

The History of Hanson Park and Surrounding ...

Education