Life is Gray, exclaims the play about Black and White
The play announced itself with native percussions — almost a way to call on gods, for blessings, luck or perhaps, it was an homage.
It was ominous: the eerie lighting, the gentle and almost hypnotic drone of the voices of the choir. And with that, the stage was reinforced and set to deliver an intriguing and unique take on the myriad of emotions and situations life throws at us.
The play is called End of the Gallows — a truly worthy Palanca Memorial Award winner for full length play, written by Jay Crisostomo IV.
At the center of the story are Misters Black and White, the playwright’s representation of Cain and Abel caught between a perpetual game of cat and mouse, victim and victimizer — each living an endless loop of living and repeating mistakes, unable to let go of the past.
The story entwines three smaller sampling of stories that carry the theme of loss, regret, and remorse to seal in the grim atmosphere of the play. All characters were masterfully written, each trait organically developed as later on, the age-old line that separates good and evil, black and white was blurred. What was left was the desire to forgive and be forgiven, to repent, and to love.
The presentation of the play was perhaps one of its strongest points. The audience members were made to sit on either side of the stage; some were seated on elevated platforms and chairs, some on the floor with pillows scattered around to serve as seats. The result was a very intimate, oftentimes shocking but always intense viewing of an equally explosive play.
The actors and actresses were extremely talented; their faces, gestures and expressions never once falling out of character. Muscles flexed, faces twitched and scrunched up on demand — everything was seen, and felt.
While body language was strong, the spoken dialogue left much to be desired. The script was strong, an especially crafty use of English to paint a consistently dark atmosphere. The delivery lacked the natural glide and execution and at times sounded relatively foreign. The tone had a Filipino flair and sounded as though the play was written in the native language.
An exception and one of the more noteworthy performances is that of Karl Medina’s whose economical movements spoke louder than the more flamboyant ones, and whose tone and inflection delivered the message on a crystal platter.
Watching the play itself was quite the experience. To say that it was intense is to diminish the power of the play. It was a force of nature.
However beautiful the acting and language are, watching it comes with a caveat: you have to be prepared for it. This, after all, is not a story of forbidden love, of how a boy and a girl meets — this is an examination of mostly philosophical, sometimes theological subject matter that Filipinos might not be ready for.
Indeed, the play is not for everyone — but if you are one to appreciate an intellectual discourse within a play, this is one you wouldn’t want to miss.
End of the Gallows is showing on June 26-28, July 3-4, 10-11, 17-19 at 8PM at Dito: Bahay ng Sining, 2nd Floor of J.Molina St., Corner Guizama St., Concepcion Uno Marikina City.