Saturday, September 26, 2009
spring awakening: the half review
so there i was outside the carlos p. romulo auditorium, watching people trickle away to their seats while i loitered about at the lobby waiting for my "broux" to arrive. pooped out from work, he woke up late and got caught in friday-night makati traffic, made worse by the incessant rain. an hour and a full act later, he finally materializes... together with our tickets. as we got to our seats, it was just when actor joaquin valdes was doing this rain dance of some sorts on top of a flimsy looking stage which eventually (and very quickly, i might add) progressed to him doing the horizontal mambo with actress kelly latti. one boob exposure and joaquin mooning the entire audience later, it was intermission.
and so here begins my half review.
considering i didn't get to see the first act and have absolutely no idea who the characters are or what the primary plot is, allow me to give my impressions based solely on the powers and my observation and my imagination filling in the blanks. i presume the setting was in turn of the century germany basing on the costume, the set, the character's names and well, the values being portrayed, conservative and very narrow. the story revolved (as far as the second part, that is) around melchior and wendla, their story being he fucked her, she allowed him to fuck her and now she's pregnant which apparently during those times is a big no-no. scandalous shit that he is in, melchior gets expelled from school (the cast are portraying teens going thru puberty i think, hence the title) and so the story goes. there are other subplots that flank this main story like a budding (bading?) gay relationship, and a suicide. i think there were some more issues tackled from the first act but since i didn't get to see any of that, no point in me telling.
so where do i begin when your first vivid memory of a play is someone's butt? quite everywhere but (no pun intended) the play, really. i sat through the second half and found my eyes and ears start to drift and wander. pardon me for my lack of attention but puberty and the taboo of sex and all these teen issues is old news to me, and no matter how you repackage old news, its still old news. i could not help but notice however the reaction of the audience. they were for the most part captivated. i recall studying this one member sitting on stage (part of the seats were on stage) and how she looked and followed the cast, almost as if dissecting them with her eyes as she sat, legs crossed and eyes focused. there was also the old lady seated behind me who remarked a lot to her seatmate. though i often dislike people giving unsolicited commentary, i however found myself eavesdropping since i found it interesting, even entertaining as to how she reacted to some of the graphic scenes on stage. thankfully, she was not your palengkera manang variety but conducted her expressions with controlled and much appreciated poise (pa-chuckle chuckle lang).
my appetite now stirred, i began taking notice of the play (finally). this was at the point wherein frazzled moritz came out (played by an adorable looking nicco manalo with his lyle lovett hair). playing a kid wound up to the point of breaking, the actor did his role well since i definitely felt his frustration. his singing on the other hand, well, lets just say, i liked his acting better. actor joaquin valdes was just as good as how he was the first time i saw him. i am still impressed by how well he executes his role, singing-wise and acting-wise. who would have thought beady eyes could be so expressive! same holds true with the lead actress, kelly latti, playing the naive and now pregnant wendla. i however found her singing weak and actually had some difficulty understanding some of the words she sang. jett pangan and cheska inigo played all the adults on stage (and i do mean ALL) and i found it amusing how they shifted from one character to the next like a pair of hyperactive schizophrenics. their presence provided me some comic relief from all the weight these kids were serving. not surprisingly, it was the adult's performance that i liked the most. there was another source of humor in the story, from the blossoming gay love between a very cute jc santos and nar cabico. again, it was a momentary break from all the loss and strife, something that i appreciated (especially with such eye candy). i just however wish the actors payed better attention to diction since i found myself get distracted every time a word is "mis-intonated". for gay germans, medyo matigas dila nila :)
overall, my impressions of the play were so-so. i think the plot, despite it being rather cliche, still had great story-telling potential. it deals with issues we are all familiar with and undoubtedly, issues with still much social relevance. this is rather advantageous since all the actors needed do is rekindle this memory and they have the audience in the bag, HOWEVER, it was just that that i found them lacking in. though grossly, their performance conveyed the main sentiment, it was in the details that they missed out a lot. they didn't, to me, feel troubled enough, agitated enough. their movements, for me, fell short of the edginess as well as the abrasiveness, crass, almost obscene explosion of emotions one would expect from repressed teens. i could not help but feel a sense of restraint with them. funny actually, in some parts, the adults felt more real in letting go of their inhibitions and acting more like teens that the "teens" themselves.
song-wise, they were ok. quite modern with a lot of the feel almost reminiscent to RENT. again, however, their delivery lacked the oomph! i had wished they had. they were able to do it in some parts but weren't so successful in the rest. i just hope they do better in their future runs.
so there goes my half review. "spring awakening" wasn't as awakening as i had hoped despite the awards and the reviews. considering that i only saw the later part of the musical, i could only wish that the part that i didn't see would make a significant difference in my eventual musical viewing experience.
"spring awakening" runs from september 25 until october 18 at the carlos p. romulo auditorium, RCBC plaza, makati. For tickets, call 8927078 or 8401187