NOTES ON VLF 15 SET B: Life’s daily disquieting disturbances and discoveries, discomforts and delights

By IBARRA C. MATEO

Intended or not, the three plays in this year’s Set B of Virgin LabFest15 attempt to showcase variations in life’s daily disquieting disturbances and discoveries. And the discomforts and delights they bring.

        In Layeta Bucoy’s “The Unreachable Star” directed by Mara Marasigan, the bipolar disorder of a a UP Los Banos student  (Ali played by Lorrie Figueroa) unravels her parents (Tatay, Raffy Tejada and Nanay Tex Ordonez-de Leon) elaborate plans for her to seek political office, which will bring in cash they badly need.

        To complicate the family friction, the boyfriend of Ali’s older brother (Kuya, Reynald Santos) has also plans to vie for the same political office.    

        Figueroa must summon gumption in order not be bowled over by the presence of the competent Tejada, De Leon, and Santos, notably during their heated arguments.

        However, Marasigan’s able direction of the Bucoy material managed to maintain the tension during the 45-minute run, without descending into melodramatic morass.

        “Anak Ka Ng …” by U Z Eliserio and directed by Maynard Manansala assembles Skyzx Labastilla (Connie, the mother), Krystle Valentio (Pina, daughter of Connie), and Rafa Tibayan (Niko, boyfriend of Pina).

        OFW Connie returns to the Philippines after the death of her husband, the father of Pina, to settle family matters. And she eventually meets Niko.

        During the caustic confrontation between mother and daughter, years of stifled anger and resentments explode. The usual story of OFW children feeling abandoned by their fathers or mothers who went overseas to earn money to better their lives. This is the daily narrative of more than 10 million Filipinos.

        Despite the stale OFW plot, Eliserio’s script spins the story in a luscious fashion, which is utilized by Manansala to optimize the acting synergy between Labastilla and Valentino. Add the short but marked appearance by Tibayan, and you have a refreshing take on the trite OFW parent-children relationship.

        Of the three plays in this set, “Wanted: Male Boarders,” by Rick Patriarca and directed by George de Jesus III, taunts the audience for its licentious content.

        The three long-time residents of a Cavite boarding house are Ross Pesigan (Marco), Aj Sison (Ian), and Vincent Pajara (Andrew). Melody, played by Lance Reblando, is a new, transgender boarder.

        It would be narrow to categorize this latest Patriarca work as appealing to the LGBTQ community.

In Patriaca’s material, the boarding house is a metaphor for a community or a locale, where residents (in this case all males) are trying to discover who they are and what they want in life.

De Jesus, as always, fully unleashes his originality and creativity in breathing life into the pages written by Patriarca. The time lapse turns the quiet audience into a rambunctious flock.

Cheers to Reblando, Pesigan, Sison, and Pajara.

Virgin LabFest 2015 Images

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