Saturday, July 7, 2018

VIRGIN LABFEST 14: Set B

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

ROSAS – Merto (Bembol Roco) and Anding (Crispin Pineda) meet once again at Home for the Aged, a nursing home for senior citizens who either have no family left or simply not welcome in the family home anymore. The two men reminisce and share stories of their younger days while also reflecting on the current state of their lives and how they ended up on a swing at a garden with roses aplenty. As the discussion continues, their past catches up with them, something they eventually have to confront.

Rosas starts this set in a nostalgic note that seems a bit too melancholic. The overall vibe can be a little loaded albeit monotonous, leading you to ask whether the management’s decision to place it ahead of the other two is ill-advised. Nevertheless, Roco and Pineda don’t disappoint. The blocking leaves something to be desired, though. Given how the narrative is anchored in its two lead characters and there is nothing much in the minimalist set for distraction, not being able to see either actor’s face is a bit disappointing especially if you are on the side bleachers.


ANG MGA PROPESYUNAL – Pia (Krystle Campos) is a ten-year old journalist barred from emntering Malacañang. Along with her friends doctor Roel (Arthur Castro) and policeman Lauro (Jian Markus Tayco), the three play with a cart on the train tracks while sharing stories from their respective professions and getting on heated debates regarding the country’s political status quo. As police and journalist begin to clash given their respective duties, it is up to the doctor to play referee between two opposing views that can’t be any more distinct and irreconcilable as of late.

When I saw the words “journalist” and “Malacañang” on the synopsis I was, like, SKIP! I am glad that I watched the play though, if only for its refreshing and unique take on issues. The story is told in such a way that the three kids are supposed to be adults but squabbling over issues like children. It is a bit confusing like that on paper but you will understand the gimmick once you see it for yourself. In a way you can actually interpret it as a good metaphor for the people you encounter every day on social media. The issues are tackled with such fervor and believability that you will end up admiring not just this trio’s talent but also their intelligence as young actors.

EDGAR ALLAN HEMINGWAY – Pursuing a career shift from programmer to novelist, Levi (Rafa Siguion-Reyna) has achieved what most writers can only dream of. With a New York Times bestseller under his belt, he has to deal with a swamped schedule organized for him by his assistant Barns (Ricci Chan). When his college friend George (Guelan Luarca), a frustrated writer who was the one to encourage him to pursue writing, comes for a visit, frustrations and grudges are thrown around culminating in the revelation of a secret that might eventually sabotage the writer's budding career.

Coincidence or not, it seems that a Carlo Vergara play is always the most likely venue for elevator acting in theater. Or maybe it’s just Ricci Chan? We are not complaining, though. It ends up being entertaining most of the time. The good thing is that the three actors get to pair up and do scenes together, their contrast in acting styles easily complementing the other. In any case, most of Vergara’s plays tend to be fun and somehow feel as though they are catered more towards a mainstream audience, giving the material some crossover appeal. It also helps that his plays seldom tackle politics. In effect, this has been a fitting choice as the set’s finale thanks to the cast’s impeccable comic timing and audience impact.

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