Saturday, March 30, 2019

Father's Day (Repertory Philippines)

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Matthew (Andres Borromeo) tries to sneak into his father’s house but is caught in the act. Henry (Miguel Faustmann) is surprised but also intrigued, as it’s been a while since his wife Sue (Liesl Batucan) left him with their three children in tow to live with her new husband, Terry. Father and son have a tense reunion and end up discussing family issues both past and present. In reality, he is on a mission to seek approval from him so he can marry his goth girlfriend Christine (Becca Coates) who may or may not be pregnant. Soon enough, the ex-wife joins the fray as they encourage and discourage their son from what could either be the greatest decision or worst mistake of his life. Unbeknownst to both, the kid has some other hidden motives as to why he has devised the perfect plan for the two of them to meet once again.

The humor is very British. The exchange of lines feels reminiscent of sitcoms from decades ago. All that’s lacking is a canned laugh track. This is not to say that the material is corny. On the contrary, it actually evokes some sort of nostalgia for a brand of comedy that we no longer witness that much nowadays. In straight plays like this, it’s easy for the banter to feel rehearsed, which is why it’s a good thing that Faustmann and Borromeo are so in sync, yet it still feels like you are just eavesdropping on an actual conversation.

Repertory Philippines always has a straight play on offer every year, and the setting is almost always someone’s living room. Whether this is intentional is anybody’s guess, or perhaps they are just maximizing the intimate and cozy setting that is Greenbelt 1’s Onstage theater? To reiterate, it feels as though you broke into someone’s living room and stayed there to watch the family talk. That kind of setting might not work as well as expected if done in a much bigger venue.

As for the actors, Borromeo seems to be the newbie but does not disappoint. Faustmann and Batucan are Repertory mainstays, and not without reason. What’s, perhaps, noteworthy about Repertory Philippines’ actors is that they have the accents down pat. In the case of Father’s Day, close your eyes and listen and you’d probably think that you ended up in a theater somewhere in England. This has always been their strength and never fails to lend much needed authenticity to the material they are presenting.

As for the story, it’s always best to talk about domestic affairs when dealing with straight plays. Lacking the song and dance numbers that make musicals stand out, you really have to depend on acting and dialogue to entertain your audience. As such, you need competent actors to make sure that the narrative connects with the public. In Father’s Day, we witness the amusing dynamics of a dysfunctional family, and in so doing you get to appreciate your own. Fun and introspective, always a good combo.

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