But these are my personal favorites--those that reached out to me, grabbed me from across the footlights with their truth, power, honesty, wit, style. They're singular to me, in other words--preferences borne out of the unique mindset, disposition and belief system I had brought to that very moment in the dark when these performances were playing out before my eyes. They're the ones that connected the most with me, sometimes despite the inadequacies of the material. Bravo's the word for them.
1. Frances Makil Ignacio, who fleshed out a shopworn storybook character--Maria Clara--with magnificence, magnanimity and instructive maturity in Suor Clara.
2. Missy Maramara, for her gritty, fearless turn as a woman bound to a lifetime of selfless love and devotion in Balunbalunan, Bingi-bingihan.
3. Mayen Estanero--a brief but marked appearance in Matyag, and a longer one in Bakit Wala Nang Nagtatagpo sa Philcoa Oberpas that showed she could be just as savvy in comedy.
1. Jojit Lorenzo--absolutely splendid as a henpecked husband near his wits' end coping with storms both domestic and meteorological, in Ondoy.
2. Lorenz Martinez, who lent his nerdy character in Collector's Item a dignity and gentility that elevated it from caricature.
3. Paul Jake Paule--two strong turns in Balunbalunan, Bingi-bingihan and Carmi Martin, playing essentially the same character with appealing naturalism and self-assurance.
4. Randy Villarama, nothing if not versatile--in Sundan Natin Si Eversan a farcical dynamo, and in Matyag a young father torn apart by dangerous impulses.
5. Ariel Diccion, with his take-charge comic timing and energy a jolt of sheer delight in Carmi Martin.
6. Bembol Roco--effortless, riveting artlessness in Balunbalunan, Bingi-bingihan; something we've come to expect from this ace actor, but which, nonetheless, leaves us moved every time.
7. William Manzano, who graced Huling Habilin ng Sirena with its one true human note, as a kid awakening to a bizarre sort of power-cum-sexual politics.
1. Balunbalunan, Bingi-bingihan--tight, well-meshed turns from the cast of three in a slow-burn play that pays off satisfactorily, thanks to them.
2. Bakit Wala Nang Nagtatagpo sa Philcoa Oberpas--give or take one weak link, this was group work of a high zany order, achieving a brightly absurdist tone that felt unforced yet smartly constructed.
3. Sundan Natin Si Eversan, another hyperkinetic farce that sustained its madcap tone from the cast's complete embrace of both the material and the director's silly-serious vision of it.
4. Carmi Martin--familiar plotline enlivened by a twist and well-delivered repartee, courtesy of its two actors who matched each other with proficient ease.
5. Higit Pa Dito--Mailes Kanapi and Cris Pasturan played mother and son with a shared stylized bent that came close to mannerism, but between them, and within the self-contained universe of this play, they achieved a vivid, poignant chemistry.