Light — but not easy
- Joy G. Virata () - April 17, 2006 - 12:00am
Comedies and musicals! A recently commissioned market survey only confirmed what Rep (and most other theater companies) has known for years. The task of luring evasive audiences away from DVDs, cafes, bars, and couches into the theater becomes just a tad easier with music and laughter. I suppose that makes sense: people who work hard want to relax. There are exceptions, of course, but not enough to fill a big theater (unless you have Julia Roberts in the cast).

2 & 2 Make Sex,
which opens on April at Rep’s Globe Theater at Onstage in Greenbelt 1, falls under the category of light comedy – very, very, very light comedy.

"Keep it light, keep it light" I kept telling the actors as the director of this British drawing room comedy. "Don’t delve. Don’t think. Don’t give your audience time to think. It’s a comedy."

Miguel Faustmann, playing a "typical" conservative (in background and nature – not in politics) Englishman, turning 50, who is about to embark on a summer affair, easily slipped into the comedy mode. He has been playing this kind of a role for years. Liesl Batucan, playing his suspicious wife, started out being "wronged" but quickly saw how much funnier her character would be as a bright and sunny British housewife and changed her attack. Liesl had to stretch her capacity as an actress in this role since she had to add ten years to her actual age. But she came from a very successful portrayal of a 40-year-old spinster in 7 Ng Umaga and had to add just five more years to that. Juno Henares plays her friend – a big, confident, writer of a "Dear Abby" column. This play will mark Juno’s comeback to the regular Rep season although she played the "Empress" in the Rep Children’s Theater production of the The Emperor’s New Clothes last year. Juno’s last play with REP was A Chorus Line in 1985.

Arnel Carrion and Ana Bitong play a young couple and provide a bit of "hunk" and "skin" to the scenery. (Not enough to give it an R rating – maybe just a PG.) I told Arnel, "Think handsome." I told Ana, "Think 20." It’s amazing what the mind can accomplish. Bonggoy Manahan rounds out the cast playing the role of the innocent bystander who pushes the play to its inevitable ending.

2 & 2 Make Sex
, for all the fluff that it must be, is actually a very difficult play to stage. In the first place it takes place on two completely different sets at the same time (designed by Miguel Faustmann). Then there are about a million props. Not only does the assistant director Marijke Amador and stage manager Peps Dumalogdog need to collect them but they must figure out how to get them on and off stage without slowing down the pace of the play. The lights designer (Martin Esteva) must be able to isolate areas quickly and create different times of day and different moods which means there are also about a million light cues. Then there are the many sound effects and music clips that help the comedy along.

Actors will tell you that it is more difficult to act in a comedy then in a serious play. Playwrights Richard Harris and Leslie Darbon have written a typical British drawing room comedy involving transparent lies, ridiculous cover-ups, and mistaken identity. The dialogue sparkles with British wit and humor and the play proceeds at breakneck speed with split second timed entrances and exits. This requires comic timing, awareness of the comedy underlying seemingly serious dialogue and the use of great physical energy. But actors will also tell you that they love doing comedies because they get instant gratification when the laughter comes and are instantly dismayed when it doesn’t which makes every performance exciting and challenging.

Rep has always touted itself to be an actors’ company – a company whose vision includes providing employment to those striving for a career in theater. To do this we must think of pleasing ticket buyers. And so, if people want to lighten their lives a little with "lite theater" we provide them with "lite theater" even if it isn’t always easy to do.
* * *
2 & 2 Make Sex is the summer fun offering of Repertory Philippines and the City of Makati. It opens on April 21 with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 3:30 p.m. until May 7. Rep is launching its "Bring Your Barkada" promo with this play. Buy five tickets and get one free. Tickets are at P500, P300 and P200 and are available at the Rep box office (887-0710), TicketWorld (891-999) or at the theater two hours before curtain time.

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