Friday, July 8, 2016

Review of VIRGIN LABFEST XII - SET D: Outrageous Oeuvres

July 8, 2016

1. MARTE

Written by: Eliza Victoria
Directed by: George de Jesus

The setting is Mars. People from Earth can go there to work and get higher wages than if they work on their home planet. However working for the Promethei Industries on Mars is proving to be very dangerous for the health of its employees. Veteran worker Tina tells newbie companion Lorie about an unfortunate incident where a co-worker Mylene had a chemical splash on her face which caused critical injuries. 

Of all the plays I had seen in this year's VLF, this one had the most outrageously imaginative set and production design. The crew really had to think outside the box here to create a futuristic set that would look convincing as Mars. They even thought of a "robot" campaigner for the gubernatorial candidate. They had hand-held "hologram players" and "remote control" video screens (which also showed a pre-recorded message from festival director Tuxs Rutaquio to introduce the whole set, something he would usually do live in person for the other sets). 

The basic premise of the story though is very familiar. It sort of reminded me about the film "Imbisibol" (itself a VLF play three seasons back) which was about the travails of Filipino workers in Japan. This time, just replace Japan with Mars, but the OFW issues tackled (problems about working away from home, the over-dependency of the family back home, the conflicts between two co-workers) remain the basically the same. Stella Canete-Mendoza and Martha Comia give very effective performances, as the disgruntled Tina and the troubled Lorie respectively.


2. DADDY'S GIRL

Written by: Ricardo Novenario
Directed by: Nicolas Pichay

A young woman finds herself in another dimension, and there she meets her father. An unfortunate incident of a forbidden nature that occurred between father and daughter when she was 16 caused their estrangement. Its vivid memory still haunted their reunion. Now that they were both dead, could they now fulfill their destinies as romantic soul mates?

Based on the synopsis alone, you can imagine how much discomfort this play can cause in the audience watching. This play tackles outrageously scandalous stuff -- rape and incest between a father and his daughter. No matter how much comedic diversion the writer injects to lighten up the proceedings (that sequence when the two of them reenact classic love scenes was very funny and well-executed), the unsettling nature of underlying premise still cannot be so easily alleviated. The practically bare set design worked well with the bizarre story.

Marco Viana and Skyzx Labastilla were definitely very energetic in their passionate portrayal of these two star-crossed soul mates. They did not necessarily have convincing romantic chemistry together though.


3. HAPAGKAINAN

Written by: Rick Patriarca
Directed by: Chris Martinez 

A seemingly ideal family of four sits together at their dining table for a delicious dinner of tinola prepared by their mother. However, it did not take long until their picture-perfect smiles and polite manners turn into bitter, expletive-laden, madcap tirades about parental ineptitude, illicit affairs, teenage pregnancy, and drug abuse.

The play opens with the strains of "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music" and a smiling formal family portrait hanging in the background. Little do we know that we are going to see probably one of the most outrageous plays of this year's VLF in terms of language. The profanity index of this script literally shoots off the charts as every known curse and cuss words known in the Filipino language crisply emanate from every character's mouths.

The most unlikely actors play the four foul-mouthed family members. The glamorous Adriana Agcaoili portrays the mother while the dapper Arnold Reyes plays the father. Innocent-looking Mikoy Morales and sweet Adrienne Vergara play the two teenage kids. Despite the potentially offensive continual barrage of dirty language, Rick Patriarca's witty script, Chris Martinez's mastery of satirical dark comedy, and the fluid ensemble work and precise comic timing of the cast succeed to make the whole audience roar in lustful laughter the whole time.


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