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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 8, 2018

Three Plays In The 14th Virgin Labfest: 'Rosas', 'Ang Mga Propesyunal' And 'Edgar Allan Hemingway'

THE VIRGIN LABFEST is an annual affair at the CCP showcasing the new works of various playwrights that theatre enthusiasts now look forward to every year. It’s now on its 14th year and we just saw the Set B of three one act plays. We would have wanted to see all the plays but we don’t go beyond Quezon City except on Sundays when there is no heavy traffic. Set B consists of “Rosas”, “Ang mga Propesyunal” and “Edgar Allan Hemingway”.

“Rosas” is written by Dennis Teodosio and directed by Charles Yee. It’s about two aging gays (Bembol Roco and Crispin Pineda) in a home for the aged reminiscing about their past. We cannot sympathize with them, especially after it was revealed that one of them got imprisoned for raping another man. We can’t help but yawn while they’re yakking on stage and we felt relieved when it’s finally over.

“Ang mga Propesyunal” is written by Sari Saysay and directed by Carlitos Siguion Reyna. It’s about three scavengers, one girl and two boys, who are role playing while on their way to junk shop. Pia pretends to be journalist, Roel is a doctor and Lauro is a policeman. As they converse along the railroad tracks, they get to tackle such timely topics such as the killing of journalists, press freedom and extra judicial killing.

Krystle Campos as Pia, Arhur Castro as Roel and Jian Tayco as Lauro are all just in their early teens but attacked their respective roles with so much sincerity and energy. They might be playing a game of fantasy, but you can feel their totally committed to what their roles stand for in these tumultuous times that we are living.

Siguion Reyna did a fine job in orchestrating the performances of the three teen actors, We can just imagine him honing them so that they will be perfect in their timing and render truly persuasive characterizations. We just wished that Krystle knows how to project her voice better as Pia since it trails off and you sometimes have to strain your ear to gully get what she is saying.

‘Edgar Allan Hemingway” is written by the prolific Carlo Vergara who has previously wrote such acclaimed plays as “Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah”, “Mula sa Kulimliman” and “Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady” (which Regal Entertainment bought so they can make it into a movie, just like “Zsa Zsa”). The three character play starts with a copywriter, George (Guelan Luarca), visiting the condo of his old friend Levi (Rafa Siguion Reyna) who hit it big in New York for writing a novel said to be a combination of the styles of Jane Austen and Alex Garland.

Levi is in Manila for a short stay but he’s still out and George gets to meet first his assistant and gay lover, Barnes Noble (Ricci Chan). George is himself a frustrated novelist and he wants to get some advice from Levi about the novel he’s been writing. In his talk with Barnes, he learns a lot about his old friend, then Levi walks in and is he in for a much bigger shock after Levi reveals to him a deadly secret to his style of writing where George himself can be a combination of Edgar Allan Poe and Ernest Hemingway.

Smartly written with wit and style, the play is well served by the three cast members. Guelan Luarca is perfectly cast as the paunchy George who feels forlorn and desperate that life is passing him by. Rafa Siguion Reyna nails his role right as the seemingly successful novelist who is somehow tormented by guilt and weighed down by the gravity of his own secret.

As usual, the hilarious Ricci Chan nearly runs away with the play with his sleek portrayal of Barnes, knowing how to milk every line for maximum impact, including his outburst when he finds out that Rafa has opened up to his friend and revealed his secret as to how he wrote his novel. Actually, he’s the most shocking character in the play as he has no qualms about what Levi did and sees nothing morally wrong in it.