Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bona (PETA)


Call center agent and Nazarene devotee Bona (Eugene Domingo) places her family aside and her career on hold to support the dreams of struggling wannabe actor Gino Sanchez (Edgar Allan Guzman), who gets eliminated first from a TV talent show called Star of Tomorrow. Despite the warnings of her friends and the arrival of a potential life partner in the person of the condominium’s landlord, Bona opts to prioritize Gino’s career up to the point of shelling out her hard-earned money that her sister and nephew need, distancing herself from her friends, and heating the water for his daily morning bath. In short, she is no longer just a fan, but a worshipper of someone who is obviously just using her.

I have not seen the Lino Brocka movie, and so I would not have the right to compare, although that one seems to have been a pure drama and very well-received by critics. As for the theater adaptation, it is more of a comedy, which is perhaps just apt since Domingo is already known for her acting prowess when it comes to this genre. The first half is pure comedy, while it is in the second half where the serious underlying issues start to surface. About two or three of the supporting actors are not alien to the theater scene, while the rest of the cast seem to be rather unknown, but still effective in portraying their roles.

The set is not grandiose but just enough to accomplish the setting, which is mostly in Bona’s house or Gino’s condominium. For scenes related to the TV talent show, a combination of lighting techniques and an illuminated title card are used to set the mood of being in a studio. Video projection is utilized to show events that could no longer be accommodated onstage, such as the various shooting scenes in which Gino partakes, always accompanied by Bona, of course.

The theme of the play is not at all an alien concept, what with the proliferation of TV talent searches that would rather give way to sob stories than genuine talent. For anyone with a television at home, it is easy to identify with this concept, regardless if you yourself are a fan or just a mere spectator. The material is modernized and might even seem unrecognizable to some who have seen the movie version. Times have changed, and this contemporary adaptation is just appropriate to bridge the generation gap and be relevant to a new set of audience.

As for the story, Bona’s ordeal seems to be a showcase of stupidity and obsession, but the truth is that you would always find people like her. If you do not know one, go online. They usually take the form of anonymous online trolls who would badmouth each other to death for the sake of their idols’ glorification. We are a starstruck nation, and even if we do not want to admit it, there is a Bona in every one of us. The only difference is that Bona herself is more open about it. What is depressing, though, is that she allows her passion to consume her in a way that would not lead to self-improvement. However, the ending is a perfect reminder that such a phase could come to an end if one is willing to. In the end, Bona is just a fine example of our society and that celebrity-obsessed sector that lives in it.

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