my favourite part about the 1800’s is none of you were born yet
I love sunglasses, am I looking at that tree? Am I staring at your dick? Who knows!
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A woman in a happy relationship is revisited by a former flame, who is intent on extorting money from her by threatening to expose their sex video.
Playwright: Liza Magtoto
Director: Audie Gemora
Lead Actors: Uleb Nieto, Cris Pasturan, Randy Villarama
Exploring society’s prejudice and uncomfortable relationship with female sexuality, Anonymous succeeds in portraying a woman caught between two men in her life, both harboring their own views on her past sexual indiscretions. Liza Magtoto’s assured writing grounds the narrative, attacking the issue at hand with the play’s first line, where Cris Pasturan’s boyish but cunning character approaches the female lead in a cafe and asks, “Didn’t we have sex before?” The execution is wildly humorous, in part because of Pasturan’s acting, but also because it comes completely out of left field, pointing a finger at our expected notions of keeping female sexuality as a secret, or at least something you don’t ask outright in public. Uleb Nieto shines in her portrayal of the female lead, perfectly exemplifying a deer caught in headlights, while the repartee between Cris Pasturan and Randy Villarama adds welcome humor to the play. The ending is beautifully executed; you know what’s coming, but it’s deeply affecting nonetheless. As secrets are revealed and words of threat and lamentation are exchanged, Nieto’s character blooms in her defiance, and wilts, heartbreakingly so, in her defeat.
Sa Isang Hindi Natatanging Umaga, at ang mga Ulap ay Dahan-dahang Pumaibabaw sa Nabubulok na Lungsod
With her life slowly being choked out by her overbearing husband, Meg seeks comfort and companionship in a newcomer at her workplace.
Playwright: Allan B. Lopez
Director: Denisa Reyes
Lead Actors: Liesl Batucan, Jonathan Tadioan, Yong Tapang
Though it’s a bitch to recite when you’re recommending it to friends,Sa Isang Hindi Natatanging Umaga‘s title is absolutely apt: it’s enigmatic, it speaks of slow decay, and it holds secrets in the title alone. Liesl Batucan delivers an amazing performance as Meg; you feel her quiet desperation, the playfulness and mischief bubbling underneath. Other standouts are the well-crafted stage lighting and singular soundtrack, joining the three characters through moments of suspicion, discontent, and sensual despair (the two men in Meg’s life are bathed in starkly different lighting: her husband commanding the brash, unforgiving glare of overhead spotlights, exposing everything onstage, nary a nook or cranny to hide; her lover, timid at first, lit in warm but increasingly darker tones).
Far from what the title suggests, the play actually utilizes humor as well, providing a welcome respite from some of the emotionally draining scenes. As the narrative traverses its five-year span, Meg’s decisions, mistakes, and past relationships loom overhead, while the stage clocks its way around the audience with the aid of a moving window, through which the viewers are allowed but a brief glimpse on the life of an unhappy woman (the same window that locks her away, perhaps in a never-ending embrace of time and decay).
Sa Pagitan ng Dalawang Kahong Liham
In the midst of an inevitable separation, two lovers, Tart and Cards, read to each other their past letters, reliving their passionate but destructive romance. One sees no other choice but to leave, but the other is not as willing to let go.
Playwright: Layeta P. Bucoy
Director: Chris Millado
Lead Actors: Roeder Camañag, Marco Viaña
As the lights of the theater flicker on to signal the start of Layeta Bucoy’s play, the audience is witness to a beautifully executed stage design–entangled flourescent lamps hanging overhead, a table in disarray, a mute stereo player sitting in the background–all this mirroring the unrest in younger lead Tart’s mind. The conceit (two lovers reading to each other their past letters) is utilized, shifted, and set aside throughout the play, ensuring that the story does not rest comfortably in its attention-grabbing premise. And though the script sometimes misses a few beats in where these shifts should be employed (sadly testing the patience of some audience members), leads Roeder Camañag and Marco Viaña more than make up for it with their performances. Tasked with working on a challenging premise and script, the two actors deliver the needed emotional weight of their characters, breathing life to Cards and Tart’s tug of war romance, and boldly exhibiting onstage their wild, passionate, and ultimately destructive affair.
There is plenty of room for the narrative to grow, and if the playwright’s ability to craft a story of two lovers left with no choice but to part ways is any indication, Sa Pagitan ng Dalawang Kahong Liham could very well turn into a full-length play that examines the fatal nature of romance, co-dependent existence, and the despair that consumes us once the only thing we live for bids us farewell.
The Virgin Labfest is an annual festival of untried, untested, unpublished, and unstaged works for the theatergoing public. For more information, visit The Virgin Labfest’s Facebook page and the CCP website.
(Originally posted on Wordpress)