Review: “Tatlong Linggong Pag-ibig” Offers a Smorgasbord of Love Stories


Tatlong Linggong Pag-ibig

Make way for one-act plays.

Who says great shows need three hours of your time to be effective and entertaining? Tatlong Linggong Pag-ibig proves that one-act plays may have half the running time but just as much impact as full-length fares.

Six stories are grouped together in two sets, and Dalanghita Productions was able to arrange their mix of musicals and straight plays in a balanced way that guarantees the best of what this theater treat has to offer, whether you only watch one set or both (we recommend both).

(READ: Dalanghita Productions Returns to the Stage with Tatlong Linggong Pag-ibig)

“Malapit Man, Malayo Rin”

Tatlong Linggong Pag-ibig

‘Traffic’s a bitch’ takes a whole new meaning in Chriz Martinez’s play, “Malapit Man, Malayo Rin”. Dripping with wit and painful irony, this show just may be the perfect Filipino version of what it means to be star-crossed lovers in present day Manila.

A pair of lovers meet one weekday night to celebrate their third monthsary and before the man (Roi Calilong) and the woman (Patricia Liwanag) could get off the Cubao platform, their conversation has spiraled hilariously, tragically out of control. Their undoing is Metro Manila’s most identifiable quality: the horrendous traffic.

It’s absurd on the surface but resonates every city person’s intimate relationship with Manila traffic. It is so bad that it affects the careers we pursue, and even the people we choose to build our lives with. It’s a tragedy in its own way, made more effective by the ever real possibility that these poor souls could be us.

“Rom.Com”

Tatlong Linggong Pag-ibig

George De Jesus’s “Rom.Com” is as formulaic as any romcom you’ll ever see. Man (Jett Pangan plays William) and Woman (Sarah Facuri plays Beth) meet, and there’s instant animosity and attraction there. They fall in love anyway and go through the familiar ebb and flow of the genre, referencing the tropes as they go along. But, make no mistake— while predictable, it’s a showcase of the playwright’s wit and the cast’s excellent comedic timing and chemistry.

“Mula sa Kulimliman”

Tatlong Linggong Pag-ibig

Carlo Vergara is no stranger to making Filipino superheroes, and his new sci-fi fantasy “Mula sa Kulimliman” is another strong, compact one-act that works well as it is while leaving audiences intrigued for more. Quite like Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady, the focus of this play is on another strong, capable everywoman.

Mayen Estranero very realistically and compellingly play Lilia, mother to distractible son Jerome (Timothy Castillo), and oft-gone husband Gorio (Jonathan Tadioan). She tries to keep her family firmly grounded, despite all the fantastical things her family reveal to her. Impressively, Mr. Vergara never makes her out to be the tedious, unimaginative ‘voice of reason’ to much more colorful family members.

Kulimliman straddles reality and fantasy like all great superhero stories do, and Mr. Vergara has created yet another one that circumvents what it means to be a hero. Director Hazel Gutierrez’s staging also exhibited the fantastical elements of the story.

(See: Sights and Sounds- Tatlong Linggong Pag-ibig Press Launch)

“Corazon Negro”

Tatlong Linggong Pag-ibig

Layeta Bucoy’s “Corazon Negro” is unlike any of the other plays shown in Tatlong Linggong Pag-ibig. It’s quite unlike anything that’s been staged this year, in fact. This Tuxqs Rutaquio directed production is dark and gothic, an operetta (music by Jed Balsamo) written in exquisite Filipino appropriate for its Spanish time period.

Mayen Estranero gives what is easily the strongest performance of both sets combined. She is the Maestra, in love with grave digger Honorato (Al Gatmaitan) who, in turn, is in love with Iluminada (Natasha Cabrera). This love triangle takes a turn, a priest (Greg De Leon) is summoned, and we watch the climax unfold in rousing, escalating, suspenseful music that ends—literally and figuratively—on a high note.

“Isanlibong Taon”

Tatlong Linggong Pag-ibig

Two people fall in love in the 90s against the backdrop of beautiful, romantic Palawan. Written by Pertee Brinas, “Isanlibong Taon” tells the love story of two boatmen at a time and place where their love is not only forbidden, it’s even unfathomable. Directed by Guelan Luarca with music and lyrics by Ejay Yatco, the show had its moments of beauty.

The story, however, does take melodramatic turns that takes away from the contained simplicity of a hushed, forbidden love affair. RJ Santillan tries to play against type as the rather effeminate Philip while Patrick Adrian Libao plays the broody Roy. They make good effort to do their roles justice, but I felt that their lack of chemistry did dull the impact of their tragic love story.

“Ang Una at Comeback Album ni Pete”

Tatlong Linggong Pag-ibig

Juan Miguel Severo’s “Ang Una at Comeback Album ni Pete” is not the only story of the six that tries to show the complications of present-day romance. Severo’s piece tells the love story of a former child star, Pete (Bym Buhain) torn between his now-internationally famous ex, Darlene (Andrea Tatad), and a ‘non-showbiz’ gal, Diwata (Sari Estrada) he occasionally sleeps with. This story plays out against the backdrop of Pete trying to put together a Peter Pan-themed concept album to try and relaunch himself as an adult musician to Philippine mainstream pop culture.

Severo lays the Peter Pan allegory pretty thickly, it’s almost Peter Pan fan fiction. It’s a romance that we’ve all seen before: Pete, immature and full of himself, is torn between the polished and worldly Darlene and rough-around-the-edges and provincial Diwata. Realistic, sure, maybe even a little bit relatable, but sympathetic they are not. The show had about as much charm as your friend who goes on and on and on about their love problems.
The show will run until November 27 at the Power Mac Center Spotlight.

You can buy tickets here!

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