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Eyes wide shut

Maine Manalansan - The Philippine Star
Eyes wide shut
Scare tactics: Taxi Theater brings the horror movie experience to the stage with Mulagat.

MANILA, Philippines - You know you’re in a for a good horror movie if you don’t know what it’s all about. The jumps and scares are very real if we haven’t seen the trailers at all. Imagine how much more effective this can be in a live production setting.

We entered the black box theater at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, School of Design and Arts with absolutely no idea what Mulagat was about. By the looks of the poster, it seemed scary. But how scary can a play be, really? I mean, they’re up on the stage and you’re down there at the audience. And I haven’t really seen enough scary plays to set a standard in my head.

“The best seats are on the mat,” one of the ushers told us with a smile. Whether that smile was of excitement or pure evil, we later found out when the lights turned off completely. We sat on the floor approximately six feet away from the stage. Suddenly, there was a kid laughing on the stage but there was also the sound of feet running around us on the mat, dribbling a ball. I swear, at one point, something brushed past my hair and I freaked out the tiniest bit. Mind you, the play hadn’t even started yet.

Mulagat tells the story of architecture student Nico who wakes up in the middle of the night to investigate strange noises from outside his bedroom. Directed by Eric Villanueva, Taxi Theater’s Mulagat is a show where the unexpected happens. The story may be simple but it will still leave you screaming — both in fear and, if you’re a theater and technology geek, in awe — because of the effective light and sound direction. Like most horror movies, it’s all a matter of misdirection. Villanueva didn’t have the luxury of blocking out spaces from a camera’s view to misdirect the viewers from the next jump scare. He uses everything that he has instead — the actors’ gaze, spotlights and sounds — to distract you from the ghost creeping up from the other side of the stage (and at times, even from right behind you!)

By the end of the show, most people were left breathless from screaming. I, on the other hand, was left breathless by the technical beauty of the show. The production design was genius, the lights and sounds were so in sync (the jump scares got me every single time), and the cast was charming. If you’re planning on watching a horror movie in the theaters, spend your money on this instead. There’s nothing better than actually experiencing a horror movie while supporting the local arts at the same time.

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You can catch Mulagat until Oct. 29 at the SDA Black Box Theater. Visit facebook.com/taxitheater for tickets and for the show schedule. Tickets are available at P500.



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