REVIEW: “Rak of Aegis” – floods, fun, and Aegis
Thanks to a winning formula of ubiquitous karaoke hits, puns (including the title!), and a central plot many Filipinos are familiar with, it’s no surprise that Rak of Aegis is back on its 4th run and just in time for the rainy season!
An impoverished barangay struggling to get back on its feet amid flooding doesn’t sound very funny—unless you set it to the music of Aegis. The musical is about the quirky inhabitants of Barangay Venizia and how they deal with love, family, livelihood, and especially their circumstances.
Aicelle Santos is charming as Aileen, a well-meaning young woman with big dreams and an even bigger heart. Living in the constantly flooded Barangay Venizia, her shoemaker parents Kiel (Loy Martinez) and Mercy (Kakai Bautista) found themselves out of jobs when the barangay’s shoe-and-sandal shop goes bankrupt. To help out, she devises a plan to post a video on YouTube in hopes of being discovered by Ellen DeGeneres.
Meanwhile, the town’s captain, Mary Jane (Kalila Aguilos) struggles to connect with her misunderstood son, Kenny (Myke Salomon) while trying to keep the barangay afloat. She teams up with Fernan (Nor Domingo), a subdivision developer—and likely one of the reasons her barangay is flooded in the first place—to make money off of the flood. She organizes a concert for Aileen right in the middle of the floodwater.
As many of Aegis’s hits are about love and heartbreak, love stories are also abound in Barangay Venizia. Aileen is pursued by Kenny as well as Tolits played by Jerald Napoles, who is very hilarious in the role. The ‘grown ups’ are also in a triangle of their own with Mary Jane’s old feelings for Kiel bubbling up in the surface.
It’s a vibrant and talented cast, all with great comedic timing. Even members of the ensemble give the show an added texture and provide plenty of hilarity. The music and performances are faultless. Under Myke Salomon’s musical direction, each player gave even more life and personality to the music of Aegis—and that’s saying something!
The comedy within the show has a mass appeal that gets the audience roaring with laughter. At times, it even feels like every line is punchline after unrelenting punchline. Sure, they may not necessarily move the plot along, but the overall effect is still three fun hours at the theater.
The first act was, at times, dragging, with the second act laboring to keep up. Despite the uneven narrative, the lessons the show is trying to impart shines through. It’s a comedy that asks poignant questions. Who should be held accountable during devastations like floods? Is Filipino resilience really a virtue? Is it enough to just live with your predicament? Is finding temporary solutions to systemic problems really ingenuity? Or should the people of Barangay Venizia—and by extension, Filipinos—aim for more?
PETA has always made a point of telling socially-conscious stories, and this musical is no different. These resonant themes told in these relevant times have helped make it the smash hit that it is today.
With so many moving parts, and a production that encourages improvisation, it’s no surprise that the show inspires repeat viewings from its audiences. While the plot can use a tune up, there’s no question that all three hours of Rak of Aegis is pure entertainment.
RAK OF AEGIS
DIRECTED by Maribel Legarda; WRITTEN by Liza Magtoto; MUSICAL DIRECTION by Myke Salomon; STARRING Aicelle Santos, Kim Molina, Kalila Aguilos, Sweet Plantado, Stella Mendoza, Juliene Mendoza, OJ Mariano, Lorenz Martinez, Renz Verano, Poppert Bernadas, Myke Salomon, Pepe Herrera, Jerald Napoles, Benj Manalo, Kakai Bautista, Neomi Gonzales, Lani Ligot, Nor Domingo, Ron Aflonso, Phi Palmos, and Jimmy Marquez. This show runs Tuesdays through Sundays with Friday, Saturday, and Sunday matinees until August 16 at the PETA Theater Center.