Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Not A Virgin Anymore

Last Sunday was actually the first time I watched any of the Virgin Labfest entries. I dunno, maybe I’m not never really a big fan of the untried and untested. The reason why I trooped to the CCP on a Sunday afternoon was because of the level of Teresa’s excitement in inviting us to watch the play she sound designed, Kafatiran. So I went with D; it was also his first time to watch. It was the last day, and we only bought tickets to Set A.

Since this blog entry comes out after the Virgin Labfest has ended, then there is no need for spoiler alerts. I don’t know if any of these plays will ever see the light of production again, so I’m also going to just say it as I see it.

Juan Ekis’ Requiem was the first of three one-act plays of that set. The play is easily the most tedious of the three. A brother and his sister meet in his bedroom; they had come home for the first time in years because their musician dad is dying. It is a play of cryptic lines at the start, pregnant pauses and awkward silences. It’s about as 70s as Tony Perez and Cubao’s heyday.

This type of one-act play doesn’t have much movement; usually it’s just “she sits on bed” or “he sits on chair” and vice versa. Nothing much physically happens; instead, it’s the revelation of information that drives the play. So when the revelations are spoiled by the fact that one can spot them a mile away, the play’s momentum flatlines. The first time the sister asks, “Can I sleep here?” I knew that there was incest involved. And the first time she remarks, “I hate that music” referring to her dad’s recording, I guess correctly that the dad had raped her. The two actors huffed and puffed all they could, but in the end I just wanted to fast-forward to the end.

Even the bit of twist to distinguish the play from the usual dad-rapes-sister-who-has-the-hots-for-brother fails. Apparently she turns out to be adopted; unfortunately, that dilutes the shock value of both incest (they’re not related by blood) and rape (well, rape is still rape, but a father raping his own flesh-and-blood gets additional shock points). It’s not that I’m blase about incest and rape; it’s not shock that will make this play work. Without the surprise of the reveal, the play turns into a Waiting For The End.

Kinaumagahan by Rachelle Rodriguez and Wennielyn Fajilan also features a man and a woman in a room, talking. There is a certain been-there-seen-that quality of the play’s set-up: a couple argues about their relationship and tries to work things out. One can expect escalating arguments sandwiched between tender or funny scenes. He is assigned to the graveyard shift in a call center, she works as a daytime nurse; the only time they have for each other is when they meet at home when one is about to sleep and the other about to leave for work. Can their relationship survive? In this humorous peek at a slice-of-life, no major earthshaking insights are revealed. But thanks to a script that sounds real and tackles a phenomenon so current and relevant, plus the skill and onstage chemistry of the two leads, the play succeeds in engaging the audience.

Thank god they saved the best for last. Kafatiran by Dingdong Novenario is what I’d like to call a mash-up play. Novenario re-imagines the Katipunan through pink-colored glasses. A special section of the Katipunan is composed of men who are of the pink persuasion. A new recruit is to be tested to make sure he really is a “kafatid.”

Novenario liberally takes the gay in-jokes of today and weaves it into Philippine history; the result is a hilarious “what-if” look at two revolutions, one political and one sexual. Nothing is sacred; a Santacruzan becomes a substitute for the Miss Universe pageant, and even the Katipunan’s manifesto is rendered in gay-speak. Subversive? Gay humor has always had a bit of a rebellious streak flashing underneath all that glitter. If revolutions can be won by wit and verve, then Kafatiran should be our battle cry. Mabuhay! Bongga wagi!

1 comment:

Will said...

I miss going to Virgin Labfests. :(