At last – more notes on a recent play (or Three things 2013/7)

My review of the new play Sa Wakas appeared today on GMA News Online. It was begun at exactly 1 AM, roughly two hours after the play’s preview was finished. This is a new record for me; the fastest one before that was for PETA’s ‘D Wonder Twins of Boac, which was composed the morning after I saw the play.

For previous reportage, here is my piece for pindiemusic.com, which was written after the press event at Route 196.

However, I noted three things that did not make it to the review. I will address them briefly here.

1. One question that was raised in the run-up to the play was how the very idea of such a play would be received by Sugarfree fans. I have heard some expressions of unease with the idea. I understand that the music of the band still resonates with some people that the thought of them being done by other voices in another context would be difficult to accept. It is a view I would respect; it arises from the very way music forms part of narratives, a point I alluded to in the review and on which I hope to elaborate in another essay after the run is over. But there are two things that would balance this: one is that there are indeed fans who welcome this, and who are open to the possibility; the other is that this musical is as much a Sondheim homage as a Sugarfree one, and the usual theater crowds may be drawn to this for that reason.

2. The other question is whether, ultimately, the choice to take on Merrily We Roll Along‘s story-telling strategy (a choice mimicked by, among others, the romantic comedic film (500) Days of Summer, for which I thank a writer/acquaintance for reminding me) was the right one in the light of perceived audience sophistication or lack thereof. I have nothing to say about the plot itself, and the “mild spoiler” the producers caught is all I will give away. But I will say that it counted that the dialogue bore the weight of sign-posting, giving us clues as to where we are in the flow back in time. I am aware that theater is a dialogue-driven medium. I am sure that some discerning audiences, whether or not they are regular theater-goers, have figured that out.

3. On a less serious note, I am glad that the producers, who are connected to a most interesting cultural development called Fringe Manila, decided to make a few carefully placed plugs for fringe festivals in Act I. I am personally curious about how this idea, which has taken root in cities across the world, will be worked out in the Philippine context. So I look forward to the first Manila Fringe Festival in 2014.

And a bonus item:

4. Today marks not only the Summer Komikon, but also a couple of music events. At Big Bad Wolf on 5th Avenue near the Bonifacio Global City’s entrance, there will be a preview gig for the Summer Peace Festival being held in two Mindanao cities later this month. The other, and perhaps more exciting event for me, will be the monthly Attraction! Reaction! gig at Route 196. All I can say is, it will be an interesting night, Deo volunt.

Have a good weekend, dear readers.

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