Bona, The Mistress, The King and I-A A +A
Saturday, October 6, 2012
THERE are many things to be happy and proud about being Filipino. With all the ‘ugliness’ strewn around as reported in the news, sometimes, we have to consciously veer away from it and just relax. Destress and just enjoy beauty, find peace and be happy. It is good being able to run your own pace in the rat race but it does get a bit tiring especially with all the other challenges that come with it.
Admit it, when there’s too much on your mind, it’s harder to really think! There are times when we have to clear our minds to bring about clarity concerning some more important issues. We all know that. Hmmm. But that’s okay. There are many things that we can engage in to do this.
There are challenges that can muddle our thoughts and leave us feeling spent. So, we need to make a conscious effort to pick ourselves up. Right? There are a hundred ways to do this and sometimes we need to be wiser to get the best results. Yes, there are times when we need activities that are grand and elaborate and yet there are experiences that just need the old, simple touch. Like watching a movie. Or a play.
A few weeks back, I found myself in a flurry of disconcerting, dark emotions. There was this feeling of wanting to be by my lonesome. Hence, I found myself threading towards the movie theaters one Wednesday. This has led me to rediscover the perks of being able to spend time alone. I used to do this a lot during my college days, during the time I lived on my own and off-campus.
I found myself watching The Mistress. It seemed like a ‘dark’ movie that completely complemented how I felt, so why not? I have grown up watching Filipino movies mostly with my father and siblings and it was something we greatly enjoyed. I ushered myself into a seat and immersed myself in the movie.
It was good. The editing too, seemed to contribute to the movie’s appeal. Well, except for that tiny scene where Sari (Bea Alonzo) was cleaning the windows with soap and took a call. Did you notice? When she looked out the same window, it was clean! But that’s okay. As a whole, the actors gave a fine performance but I would say that although The Mistress is the title of the movie, it was The Lover that turned out the best performance. John Lloyd Cruz really did good in this movie.
The things that I like most about this movie is the story itself. I would say the script was exceptional. The dialogues were smart and funny, cheesy is definitely not an adjective that describes it. It approaches a well-known topic but rather than sugar-coating the ending, it chooses to be realistic. In a culture that has grown too used to happy endings, The Mistress chooses to let its audience deal with what is more likely to happen. That in itself, makes the movie refreshing. It does maintain its commercial appeal but at the same time, its attempts to slowly change public acceptance where movie stereotyped endings are concerned.
I started watching plays in college. It was one of those things that “grew” on me since there was so much of it presented in my school, from different theater groups university-wide. I remember watching Oedipus Rex, Mabini Girls and M. Butterfly. It was something that I learned to love and appreciate and I was quite thrilled to know that the theater scene in the Philippines has become more vibrant and active.
I watched The King and I at the Resorts World Hotel’s Newport Performing Arts Theater two weekends ago. I would assume that it was based on the 1956 film starring Yul Brynner and Deborrah Kerr.(Watched in many times with my father and by myself on betamax, vhs and CD!) There was a 1992 Hollywood Cast Recording that included Julie Andrews, Ben Kingsley, Peabo Bryson and yes, Lea Salonga as Tuptim. (I bought the CD) Needless to say, the cast turned out a great performance and the production really went all out in terms of production, sound and even promotion! Leo Valdez, Monique Wilson and the rest of the performers succeeded in putting life into their characters and I was pleasantly surprised and proud that indeed, we have really good singers who can act and move across the stage with elegant ease! Thumbs up!
And then, there’s Bona. Eugene Domingo. PETA-PHINMA Theater, Quezon City. The play is an adaptation of the 1980 Lino Brocka film starring Nora Aunor and Phillip Salvador. In this version, it is a comedy-drama; a story about a call center agent who falls in love with a wanna-be actor who joins a reality talent show. I am so sorry to say that Bona’s run is over. I watched it on its second to the last performance. It was quite an experience! The PETA Theater was cozy. No frou-frou things, just a stage, seats (orchestra and balcony) and airconditioning. It was apt considering all you need to pay attention to are the actors on stage and a big video wall that only enhanced the presentation. It was a mix of old and new technology.
Eugene Domingo is an exceptional artist. She was impeccable, whether she was uttering serious dialogue or throwing a punchline. Edgar Allan Guzman was entertaining as Gardo. Julienne Mendoza was endearing as Bert. All in all, it felt like I was watching movie, live. I can’t believe that the ensemble can make acting look so easy! The whole theater was going through emotions as they made us laugh, sigh and even cry.
While writing this piece, I suddenly realized that Bona, The Mistress and The King and I; all had sad endings. And yet even as I have come to realize these now, I remember coming out of the theater quite positive and happy that I had decided to come see it.
Apart from the exceptional cast, script, set design, and editing; I have come to realize the subtle messages that it imparts to its viewers (like me). Maybe it’s because it has shown me that although not all life experiences are happy, people eventually learn to survive them, learn from them and move on. It has showed that although experiences like death, heartbreak, broken dreams and letting go can be very painful, it is also a chance to prove your strength, realize your worth and find your place in the world with hope and faith that things will be okay.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 07, 2012.