Monday, February 8, 2016





By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer


Changes of Heart, or, The Double Inconstancy is an eighteenth century French comedy by Pierre De Marivaux, translated and adapted by Stephen Wadsworth.  Damon Bonetti, who directs this new production by the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, styles the play as a screwball comedy and watching this cast is like watching a master class in shtick.

Although the original setting is the French court, and although there’s a violet chaise longue and many gilt picture frames, you’re likely to be reminded of bits and pieces of 1930s movies, with their over-the-top mugging, pratfalls, flirting with the audience and any kind of exaggerated stuff anybody can come up with.

The basic plot is this: Silvia (Jessica Dalcanton) is a lovely peasant girl who has been snatched from her village by the Prince (Kevin Meehan) who, despite being surrounded by sophisticated beauties, prefers Silvia’s simplicity. He wants her to fall in love with him, rather than enforce the droit de seigneur.  Silvia is distraught and bewildered--and not a little smug about her own good looks and not a little self-righteous about her own “fidelity, honor, and good faith.”

Meanwhile, Harlequin (Dan Hodge) is Silvia’s boyfriend, a country bumpkin, who comes to court to reclaim her. Meanwhile, Lisette (Krista Apple), one of the glamour girls, slinks around in a red dress and sunglasses, hoping to seduce the Prince herself.  Meanwhile (you’re getting the picture here?), Flaminia (Charlotte Northeast) finds herself fed up with court’s artificiality, falls for Harlequin. They are aided in their meanwhiles and shenanigans and  intrigues by a wry, longsuffering  servant (John Lopes) and a suave piano player (Andrew Clotworthy).

Will love win the day?  Will pastoral simplicity triumph? You betcha, especially if it looks gorgeous in a brand new slinky gown.

The show starts out silly and winds up sweet; the conclusion is surprisingly, genuinely touching after all the broad and goofy ‘business’ of the first act. When the valet remarks, “If this idiot plays every scene this way, it could be a long evening.” And he does, and it is, but it’s worth it. Bonetti keeps the pace lively and makes excellent use of the odd space. The cast is supremely talented and everybody seems to be having an awful lot of fun.


Philadelphia Artists’ Collective at Broad Street Ministry, 315 S. Broad St. Through May 26. Tickets

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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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