Theater Review: ‘A Passing Wind’

Since 1963, Dr. Paul Rozin has studied disgust, among other psychological phenomena. About 25 years ago he gave a book on Le Petomane — a French flatuist performer — to his son, Seth Rozin, who was so inspired he wrote a musical chronicling the life of Petomane. This week marks the world premiere of “A Passing Wind” at the Kimmel Center’s Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts.

“Every show has its different challenges, and this one was figuring out how to get a guy to squirt water out of his ass,” says the younger Rozin, who wrote both the book and music for the show. “How do you bring to life in a believable way things only this guy could do? He had what doctors referred to as an anomalous sphincter.”

Shockingly, New York collaborators Michael Roberts and Charlie Schulman stole the Philly guy’s thunder (ahem!) with “The Fartiste,” also based on the life of Petomane. The show premiered at the 2006 NYC Fringe Festival, long after Rozin started writing his script. But Rozin-the-younger is undaunted (so is the Kimmel, which invested about $90,000 in the production). In his interpretation, Sigmund Freud, Claude Monet and other luminaries of the era play significant roles in the story as Rozin “elevates this average guy who had this weird talent. He doesn’t have any big ideas, but he appeals to the people,” he says.

Rozin gets around

“A Passing Wind” isn’t the only play by Rozin running this month on a Philly stage: “Two Jews Walk Into a War” — his non-musical play about a pair of Jewish brothers trying to outlast the Taliban in Afghanistan — opens April 8 at InterAct Theatre Company.

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