Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tangahalang Ateneo's Middle Finger: A Review of a Coming of Age Story

Wazzup Pilipinas!

For the opening for its 36th season, Ed Lacson Jr. directs Tanghalang Ateneo's Middle Finger - an adaptation of the controversial Frank Wedekind’s modern classic, Spring Awakening, which tells the story of repressed sexual urges among the youth. Written by Han Ong and translated into Filipino by Ronan B. Capinding, the play promises to tackle prevalent issues that seems to be every generations confrontations.

The audience are seated around the stage for greater intimacy and the actors all come out from almost everywhere as the play transitions from one scene to the next. The audience is treated to various sexual scenarios and carnal desires from masturbation to prostitution, and everything else in between. But I wouldn't want to be a spoiler and tell you everything I've seen and experienced. You have to go there for yourself and personally be awed at the amazing production.

The longest-running theater company of the Loyola Schools of the Ateneo de Manila University has a season theme of Navigating Identities, and thus the play which centers on two Filipino teenagers, Jakob Rodriguez and Benjamin Lunga, explores an identity crisis among the boys who are presented here as students studying in a Catholic school. You can find a deep struggle to define one's individuality and significance in this world, as what we will also encounter in their upcoming plays for the season.

Impressive convincing portrayals of the actors make this play a promising one. I am moved by every scene not only because I've gone through almost the same situations during my school days but probably because it is not everyday that you see the actors around just like mainstream actors that are overused on both TV and film. I tend to be confused with mainstream actors' other portrayals in their previous stints so its more refreshing to see new faces.

But what makes the theater more effective in engaging the audience is the higher level of intimacy, and the flexibility it offers to surprise the regular patrons. The actors can very much easily and instantly modify their performances based on audience feedback Thus every performance for the day may vary and improve.

Watch Middle Finger on their regular show dates: August 5-9, 12-16, and 19-22 and starts at 7 pm at the Fine Arts Black Box Theater FA Annex (Old Communication Dept.). Matinee weekend shows start at 2pm.

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