BWW Reviews: SANDOSENANG SAPATOS by Tanghalang Pilipino
"Sandoseng Sapatos" returns for a Christmas run from Saturday, December 7 to Sunday, December 15 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines' (CCP) Tanghalang Huseng Batute.
Manila, Philippines, December 6, 2013--When Tuxqs Rutaquio directed Tanghalang Pilipino's (TP) "Sandosenang Sapatos" (12 Pairs of Shoes) last July, he knew exactly what Aristotle meant in Poetics--focus on the plot more than the spectacle.
Rutaquio takes the road less travelled by children's play directors: Traditionally, a children's play consists of all-out colorful, mascot-like costumes, over-the-top sets and big movements to draw the audience. Rutaquio does the exact opposite: He uses a "less means more" approach in bringing out the very essence of the play's story.
"Sandosenang Sapatos, a poignant, tear-jerking fleshing out of Dr. Luis Gatmaitan's Palanca Award-winning children's story of the same name, clearly sends out its message about transcendental love and acceptance.
The play tells the story of wheelchair-bound Susie, who is determined to fulfill his shoemaker father's wish to have a ballerina for a daughter. Every year, Susie, on her own birthday, travels to a place called dreamland where the Diwata (Shoe Fairy) gives her a pair of shoes, which enables her to walk and dance.
Hoping to have the same result, she begs the shoes in her dreams to let her see the Diwata because her father is in critical condition and may not live long. Susie fails; her father dies.
On the eve of her 12th birthday, the Diwata reveals to Susie the true source of all the shoes--her father.
"Sandosenang Sapatos" tells a children's story, but it is not your average feel-good fairy tale. Despite its magical elements, it is very real and relatable even among the adults in the audience. It explores deeper issues such as accepting and respecting people with disabilities; and seeing fathers' gentler image and self-worth.
To focus more on the show's characters, story and message, Rutaquio wisely uses a thrust stage, which increases audience involvement in an intimate space. Noel Cabangon and Jed Balsamo's music, the live quartet and Layeta Bucoy's book aptly, subtly move the story forward, but never losing any time to tug the audience's heartstrings.
Trixie Esteban's (Susie) performance incandescently shines in the play. Her innocent voice, mixed with pathos and organic acting, becomes her main weapon that draws tears from the audience.
Other cast members May Bayot (Nanay), Jonathan Tadioan (Tatay), Hazel Maranan (Diwata) and Regina de Vera's (Ate) performances give way to Esteban's character to shine. In the same way, the ensemble provides the necessary balance between the dramatic and comic moments.