TFM Review: Si Maria Isabella at ang Guryon ng mga Tala and Games People Play by Frida Tan
Bit by Bit Company, most widely known for staging the original hit Maxie the Musical two years ago, has taken a risky yet much welcomed step in producing two of this year’s most critically-acclaimed original Filipino plays- Si Maria Isabella at ang Guryon ng mga Tala, one of the most renowned plays in this year’s Virgin Labfest, and Games People Play, Glenn Sevilla Mas’ Palanca award-winning piece that had sold-out runs in Ateneo de Manila’s Black Box Theater earlier this year.
(Click here for more information about the show)
Si Maria Isabella at ang Guryon ng mga Tala
Si Maria Isabella at ang Guryon ng mga Tala is a one-act play about 15-year old Maria Isabella who falls in love with Lorenzo, a boy who always keeps his eyes closed except when looking at the stars. In the hopes of winning his heart, Maria Isabella goes on a quest with a 14-year old butcher boy to find the necessary materials to build a big kite. She is determined to attach herself to it so that she can fly up into the sky and finally make Lorenzo see her.
What follows is a tragic, heart-wrenching love story told through the use of clever lighting and puppetry, accompanied by its talented young ensemble. The device adopted reminds me of The Little Prince, where metaphors and symbolisms are used to portray something bigger than what was being shown on stage. It was nothing short of a beautiful masterpiece written by Eljay Castro Deldoc, based on a short story by Dean Francis Alfar. There was not a single dry eye in the theater that afternoon.
Games People Play
Games People Play is a two-act play that starts off as an innocent storytelling of three 7 year-olds- Luna, Diego, and Julio, who busied themselves with childhood games. As they start to get older, the games start taking on a darker turn as they go through a sexual awakening. The themes reminded me of a version of Spring Awakening, where pubescent children find themselves in the dark because of their parents’ neglect. The talented trio, Thea Yrastorza, (who mainly played Luna) JC Santos (who mainly played Diego), and Abner Delina Jr. (who mainly played Julio) show their range as they played multiple roles, from children to parents, almost instantaneously.
Both plays are beyond what they seem like on the surface. Children will interpret them one way, while adults will see them for the literary treasures that they are. Kudos to director Ed Lacson Jr. for deciding to bring these works to life. It is the type of production that makes a lasting impact on the audience’s psyche, a hidden gem of a theatrical masterpiece.
The show will continue its run at the Power Mac Center Spotlight at Circuit Makati on December 19-20 at 3pm and 8pm.
Have you seen the show? What did you think?
Credits: Photography by Erickson dela Cruz