Sunday, June 19, 2022



HULING HARAYA NINA ISCHIA AT EMETERIA – Emeteria (Kiki Baento) is busy packing her daughter Ischia’s (Jovy Vieja) luggage as they both prepare for her relocation to Manila to attend university there. The teenager’s last night at her mother’s sari-sari store brings back a lot of memories, many of them not so good from previous horrors she experienced there. Afraid of what will happen to her mother, she begs a higher power to spare her from harm.

Huling Haraya Nina Ischia at Emeteria starts off with boring banter between mother and daughter, slowly opening up and introducing points of conflict from the past that we can only try our best to guess. The supernatural angle which concludes the play is hinted upon several times but only acknowledged close to curtain call. This is perhaps the downside of the Virgin Labfest. The runtime allotted for each play is just too short to develop a story. Hopefully, this play gets picked up for production so we can explore the storyline even more.

BIENVENUTA AL LIDO DI VENEZIA – Charice (Lhorvie Nuevo), a mystery visitor of an Italian countess, is welcomed to her home by her Filipina caregiver Viola (Tex Ordoñez - De Leon) who openly talks about her disgust of the old woman. Together with her lover Maximo (Jonathan Tadioan), they are just waiting for her to die so they can get their share of her inheritance. With some food and fine wine, the night goes by but not without some juicy secrets surfacing that might just lead to a murder or two.

My only beef with Bienvenuta al Lido di Venezia is the typo error in the title. I don’t remember any Romance language that has the word “Bienvenuta”. It’s either “BENvenuta” in Italian or “BienVENIDA” in Spanish. A simple Google search could've easily corrected that. In any case, the soprano singing is enticing while the premise is mysterious enough to keep you hooked. We love mystery in theater. Scare us. Get us curious. Unfortunately, this suffers from the short runtime and abrupt ending like the play that comes before it. The potential is there, though, and I’ll be happy to see a full version if ever they come up with one.

FERMATA – Two old friends, both involved in the field of performing arts, decide to meet and catch up one night. Ben (Basti Artadi) is now married and a father of two. He operates a jazz bar and seems happy with his life. Alex (Xander Soriano) is successful in his own right, having just won a Gawad Urian. What begins with “How are you” ends up opening old wounds, as the latter inquires about alleged indiscretions of his recently deceased father, their music teacher, to some of his students when they were still teens.

I’ve only seen Sets C and D so far. Fermata is the best among the bunch, but not the easiest to watch. The confrontational style of the narrative as well as the taboo issues discussed are sure to ruffle some feathers, which makes the material more admirable for its courage to deal with such topics. Sexual assault. Toxic masculinity. Macho culture. These are some of those tackled by the play in a nonchalant manner that intensifies at various points of the show. People will be talking about this long after they have left the theater.

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