Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Stage - ART

ART” is the name of the play that was staged at the Luce Auditorium last Saturday (and red, green and yellow are the colors used in the play's name in the tickets and posters). It was originally written in French by Yasmina Reza and translated to English by Christopher Hampton. The cast of three included Bart Guingona, Audie Gemora and Jaime del Mundo, professional thespians who each have impressive theater resumes.

Bart, Jaime and Audie

And here is my review, in outline form.

A. What I liked about the play:

1. The set, which was very minimalist. Three stark white walls. A sala set covered with white cloth. That’s it! It was zo zen.

2. The actors. They speak so well, so clearly enunciating every word. Even when I closed my eyes at some point (tired from all the wave-jumping and swimming, not to mention the eating, activities of the day), I could hear their strong voices and I was compelled to open my eyes and continue watching. And of course it helped that they were all good looking. I’ve long wanted to see Audie Gemora because I’ve read so much about him and he did not disappoint as truly his acting was superb, it didn't seem like he was acting at all. Let’s just say I loved him in that play. I only wish it was a musical so I could have heard him sing. One day, one day, I’m going to hear him sing on stage.

Obviously, I am biased in favor of Audie. Which is not to say that the other actors were not as good, for they were very much so. Bart always has that intensity whereas Jaime's ability to talk very rapidly for a prolonged period of time is remarkable. I just have this thing about actors crying on stage. If ever an actor has to cry on stage, I'd prefer it to be subtle, not a bawl, which looks put on. In this case, it was a super bawl by Jaime's character.

3. The conversation. Witty at times. Funny at times. The dialogues were hilarious at many points and these successfully kept me from falling asleep.

B. What I didn’t like about the play or, more kindly, what I had difficulty with in the play:

1. The setting. Foreign. So western. It’s my dream to see Europe one day but that night, I wasn’t in the mood for Europe.

2. The costumes. Again because they were European. Again foreign. I don’t know why I was craving for something very Filipino that night. Like, yeah, right. This is an award winning play, of international caliber, even. But I was longing to see a Filipino play by Filipino actors.

3. The plot. I think it’s an absurd plot. It’s about three friends whose friendship suddenly became threatened because one of the friends did something which seemed very stupid, namely to buy a very expensive painting by a renowned painter. This painting could be described as a stark white canvas with two diagonal lines cutting across the middle and one horizontal line at the bottom. All these lines were white. And when the friends couldn’t agree on whether that painting was indeed art worthy of its price, they turned to attacking each other and each others quirks and peculiarities, to such point that they decided to end their many years of friendship because of such silly things.

What kind of friendship is that? I couldn’t help but think of my own friends, of more than thirty years or so, who, all of us, have done some really stupid things at one time or another. Some really grrrrr and lamentable things. Yet the friendships have endured, thanks to such virtues as forgiveness, extra grace and acceptance.

C. Conclusion:

I enjoyed the play and had many laughing moments, thanks to the great actors and the witty conversations. I have a very high regard for true friendship and for art but I was not very moved by how the play tried to explore the intricacies of both.

Is Bart Guingona's character going to desecrate the controversial and very expensive piece of "ART"?


**Special thanks to my fellow wanderlust,
RV, the surfer dude, for the pics

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