Sunday, January 22, 2012

EYEBALL: New Visions in Philippine Theater - Maliw/Isang Araw sa Karnabal (Tanghalang Pilipino)

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

ISANG ARAW SA KARNABAL – Toni (Sheenly Gener) has her MP3 player on full volume as she lets time pass waiting for someone at the carnival. That someone turns out to be Zaldy (Yul Servo), her love interest who disappeared a few months back. Seated on a bench watching lives of different people unfold, the two discuss their issues in life, relationship, and family, bound by a common theme which is that of desaparecidos. In his case it was his six-year old sister. In her case, it is her father. The story ends in a thrilling horror roller coaster ride dubbed as the most sinister ever.

This episode succeeds in that it really is a talkie. The characters just talk and everything revolves around their interesting dialogue which covers a lot of issues not confined to the personal, but rather also jumps once in a while to the social, given the circumstances their families have encountered made known through their lively exchange of stories.

Given that, one might think that it is a boring piece. Well, not exactly. The characters make full use of the stage and their dialogue is far from being monotonous. Revelations are sprinkled all throughout to make sure that the whole thing does not drag on like a boring squabble between lovers. The acting is also to be thanked. Gener is very effective in her portrayal of a strong-willed individual who also displays hints of vulnerability once in a while. Servo, on the contrary, is funny without trying too hard, perhaps also owing to his diction and manner of delivery.

MALIW – A senior couple (Spanky Manikan & Sherry Lara) recall stories about their daughter Leny (Regina de Vera) who turns 30 that night and has been missing for five years. She is also a desaparecido believed to have been kidnapped by the military for being active in anti-government protests. As the night comes to a close the husband and wife recount their very own adventures as activists during their prime, their campus love story, and their thoughts about their children.

Very much like the first episode, this one also gives you a glimpse of the lives of those left behind by desaparecidos. At university this story was not unheard of and sort of formed part of everyday reality. The thing is, it was always presented from the perspective of other activists who are fighting for justice for their missing comrades. In this particular play one could say that the activist’s point of view is also utilized since the parents both were during their prime. However, as parents another point of view is introduced, which is that of the family, the ones left behind.

Maliw is not a one-man show but one has to give it to Lara for giving a poignant performance of a mother in denial. Her emotions are very much felt and it could be said that she has a really strong impact on the audience as evidenced by the loud round of applause during curtain call. Manikan, on the other hand portrays a silent but determined man who has his own moments filled with emotions, but the strength of his portrayal lies on his silence, which he does very well. His grief is just so evident.

Of the two plays the first one is more enjoyable because of the presentation. The other is very effective because of its appeal, its silence. Despite the difference, both of are grounded on the same theme, and it is good to see a rather different perspective of this socially relevant issue and have a good time at the same time because of the manner by which they are presented, at least in the case of the first one.

I am beating myself with a stick right now for missing the other two installments. I already had a ticket last week but I did not make it to the venue by three so I decided to drop everything altogether. More than the money wasted I hope I could still see one of the future runs.

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