Saturday, June 22, 2019

VIRGIN LABFEST 15: Set D

♣♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

LARONG DEMONYO – Retired General Videla (Leo Rialp) invites a New York educated writer to his secluded island home to write a biography that will help his presidential campaign for the coming national elections. Playing coy, Efren (Johnny Maglinao) claims there must have been a mistake because he did not apply for such a position. Soon enough it is revealed that he is not there by accident, but has come for vengeance in the name of his grandfather who was tortured during Martial Law. As they try to outwit one another, they decide to settle the score with a fatal game of chess.

Political thriller, I like. This is the best one so far and proves that a theater piece full of talk can be interesting if presented in a riveting manner. Unlike older entries that feel one sided as far as political ideologies are concerned, Larong Demonyo offers a dialogue between two characters with beliefs on opposite ends of the spectrum. There is enough intensity to keep you hooked and the rapport between the two actors is so good, not to mention you can just cut that tension with a knife.

WALA NANG BATA DITO – Dolores Espino (Venise Buenaflor) packs her daughter’s clothes as she prepares for her child to be picked up by child services en route to Bahay Pag-Asa, a prison for juvenile delinquents who have done something against the law. In this case, the girl is accused of knifing a soldier. As she goes on with her pep talk, she begins to reminisce about their life in poverty, how she met her husband, and even how they have survived all these years in such a miserable state, all while bemoaning the injustice for poor people like them.


This is one of those monologue pieces that an actress uses to showcase her acting repertoire for an audition or something. As such, Buenaflor deserves special kudos for talking for almost an hour straight without someone to share the burden with onstage. Sudden shift in lighting is used for abrupt mood changes and flashbacks. The emotional rollercoaster is sustained by one actress alone, which is really commendable. Even then, such material feels a bit out of place for a commercially viable feature. But again, cheers to Buenaflor for pulling this off.

ANG PAG-UULYANIN NI OLIVIA MENDOZA – Olivia (Edna Vida Froilan) disrupts a board game between her husband Andres (Nonoy Froilan) and his friend Cesar (Crispin Pineda) after another outburst brought upon by her Alzheimer’s. Lika (Erlinda Villalobos) completes the foursome residing in the decrepit home. The episode is cut short by the arrival of flamboyant Julia (Celeste Legaspi) who claims to be a friend from Olivia’s secret past. As once concealed truths are revealed one by one, Olivia realizes that she hasn’t been that truthful to the people she has long considered her family.

It starts off as yet another story about dementia and Alzheimer’s, but the material shifts into high gear the moment Legaspi emerges incognito onstage. While the formidable duo of Vida Froilan and Legaspi bring the house down with their tour de force performance, this comedy wouldn’t have worked without the combined effort of the ensemble cast. The roaring laughter from the audience as well as the standing ovation come curtain call prove that this is indeed one of the strongest contenders for audience's choice this year.

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