De La Salle University literature professor Shirley Lua contributed a review of Tanghalang Pilipino's The Golden Child in yesterday's issue of the Inquirer. Excerpts:
“Despite the seriousness and gravity of the play’s topic and issues, Hwang’s script is laden with strong, biting humor. Most fascinating are the scenes when the three wives come together and exchange barbs. We witness an exquisite battle of wit and power.
“The three actresses playing the three wives are incomparable. Irma Adlawan Marasigan (as the First Wife) is, indeed, one of the finest actresses of Philippine theater. In this play, she shines like the Empress Dowager against two concubines and her emperor, projecting a composed and powerfully moving character.
“Tina Chilip gains the audience’s laughs (and hearts) with her portrayal of the shameless but irresistible Second Wife, the schemer who plays her card well.
“And Liesl Batucan is perfect in the role of the timid Third Wife, who holds closest to her heart the husband’s own. Despite her mousiness, she cannot be underestimated. Her 'humility is power.'
“With three formidable women in the show, the actor who plays Father must be a Dragon to stand his own ground. Thus, it is a joy to see Arthur Acuña, who was in the May-Yi Theater’s Manila production of 'The Romance of Magno Rubio,' in the role of the patriarch.
“Shifting from grandmother to child must be tough for Ma. Teresa Jamias, who plays Ahn, old and young. Her performance, though competent, has to be more persuasive.”
More here. [Photo: Ed Lacson Jr.]
PLUS: Manila Times reviewer Joey Ting hails the play's “cinematic impulse” and its “brilliant set design and direction.” Chuck Smith of Philippine Entertainment Portal says “[It] achieves in a couple of hours what the Chinoy-themed Mano Po series failed to accomplish in five movies.” From DavidPlatz, “Great writing from David Henry Hwang and the ensemble and production design were excellent as well.”
Update: Playwright Nick Pichay weighs in with his own acute observations: “The Golden Child is a cleverly written play. Despite character types, it avoids the pitfalls of melodrama (although one could see it peeking in the sidelines). The repartee is crisp and entertaining... But as all of these elements are building up, the play seemed to end abruptly. [It] raised the audience’s expectations but--like a banquet that did not serve steamed crabs--it left us craving for some explanation.” [Thanks for the tip, Alvin!]
“The Golden Child” is on its last weekend this Sept. 5-7. Call Call 8323661, 8323704 or 8919999.
Philippine Star columnist/theater reviewer Exie Abola offers a rough draft of his thoughts on Tanghalang Ateneo's Otelo, Ang Moro ng Venecia, currently playing at the campus' Rizal Mini-Theater with a crackerjack cast led by Nonie Buencamino, Irma Adlawan, Rody Vera, Teroy Guzman and Ron Capinding, under Ricky Abad's direction. An excerpt:
“The performances are on the whole good... though other parts of the production left me wondering. Not sure exactly what the message is re the race politics of the play. Instead of Othello being a black man among whites, here he is a dark Filipino among Pinoys less dark. The casting of Rody Vera (and Ron Capinding, who I didn’t get to see) as Iago is curious: they aren’t at all fair or mestizo. They’re nearly as Malay-looking as Nonie Buencamino (I don’t know what Teroy Guzman, who alternates, looks like in person, but I’m guessing he doesn’t look very different). Instead of the white-villain / black-victim dynamic of the text, we get... I’m not sure what exactly. Moreover, the casting of the other roles doesn’t fit neatly into a fair-vs-dark dichotomy... Without this, the racial overtones of the play aren’t as strong as they could be. And if they aren’t, then it’s harder to understand Othello’s gullibility... [But] Nonie Buencamino’s performance is powerful stuff.”
Tanghalang Ateneo’s “Otello, Ang Moro ng Venecia” runs until Sept. 6, at the Rizal Mini-Theater, Loyola Schools, Ateneo de Manila University. For ticket inquiries and reservations, call Jeselyn Jagong at 0916-5215154.