by Roma Estrada
▶︎ With its balanced showcase of contempt and humor, single-character soliloquy and wacky exchanges, contemplations on the historical and the current, Virgin Labfest's Set D might just fit anyone's preference for stage plays.
Nicolas Pichay's "Larong Demonyo" stages a mind game between a retired general (Leo Rialp) and a lad (Johnny Maglinao) whose grandfather has been permanently scarred by his dark past. Here, the confrontation between binaries as represented by the two characters take centerstage: good and evil, past and the present, the powerful and the powerless. Reminiscent of Bergman's "The Seventh Seal," the play lets a game of chess decide the characters' fate.
Playwright Sari Saysay's work resonates yet again with the credo of art's duty to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. "Wala Nang Bata Dito," his third play staged at the VLF, is a statement against the lowering of the minimum age of criminal liability, but it is layered with issues of corruption, abuse of authority, killings for quota, prostitution of the fisherfolk, among other ever-pressing issues. Told through the soliloquy of Dolor (Venise Bueraflor), a mother in a small fishing barrio, the monologue confronts the audience with a weight akin to that of a bucket of decayed fish, reeking of Philippine's socio-political climate.
As VLF ensures that each set concludes in a hopeful note, Rolin Obina's "Ang Pag-Uulyanin ni Olivia Mendoza" caps off Set D with its wacky premise and set of characters. A septuagenarian suffering from Alzheimer's, Olivia (Edna Vida) inconveniences her elderly home housemates, especially her partner Andres (Nonoy Froilan), during her episodes. Things are a good laugh until the arrival of Julia (Celeste Legaspi), an old friend of Olivia's who will make her remember a secret unbeknownst to the rest of the gang.
Discover and take sides, listen and sympathize, infer and understand. At the very least, Set D will put you in the mood for further resistance.
You can still catch Set D this Friday, July 5 at 8:00PM. Virgin Labfest 15 is on its last week.
Si Roma Estrada ay isang guro at manunulat.