BWW Review: REP Actors Deliver Fine Performances in FATHER'S DAY; Show Runs Now Thru Apr. 14
Manila, Philippines--Theater veteran Miguel Faustmann has been typecast as the go-to actor for old-man roles with an I-do-not-care-what-you-think type of attitude that eventually mellows down right before the end of the play. After taking on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge several times in a span of five years, playing Henry Willows in Repertory Philippines' (REP) latest offering, "Father's Day," is the recent addition to his resume.
As obvious his casting was in this show, there really is no reason to complain because he delivers a fine performance, again for a role that's right up his alley. Although not as emotionally-charged a role as Scrooge, the character of Willows is also quite challenging for an actor because of the emotional subtleties he must exhibit in such a ridiculously short span of time.
"Father's Day," written by Eric Chappell, is a one-setting play that details all that has happened in Willow's living room (beautifully put together by Faustmann's set design and John Batalla's lighting design) over a span of about 12 hours. The story begins one winter evening when his son, Matthew, pays an unexpected visit to his estranged father to ask for his blessing in marriage. When asked why he seeks for his father's approval, he says his mother does not approve marrying his girlfriend (Rachel Coates and Becca Coates alternate in this role). So Matthew, with his gothic girlfriend in tow, as a matter of fact, is running away.
But Matthew may have engineered another ploy out of his situation. His rebellion forced his mother, Sue (Willows' ex-wife), to rush to his father's house and convince him to go home. Due to her car suspiciously breaking down (props to sound designer Arvy Dimaculangan), Sue decides to spend the night in her ex-husband's house. This meeting, not to Matthew's surprise, ignites a conversation about their role as parents to their children and, ultimately, about their past marriage.
Playing the role of Sue is another veteran thespian, Liesl Batucan, in her REP stage comeback. Batucan is known to be a chameleon, one that could effortlessly snap into and out of a role (case in point: her incredible performances in "Wait Until Dark" and "August: Osage County" both in 2014). Good thing, the age difference between Batucan and Faustmann is integral to the story, otherwise, it would have been an issue. Batucan's access to her emotions is also remarkable. Her character first appears on the stage as a furious mother and then, a few scenes later, as a wife becoming unsure about her second marriage.
Also sharing the spotlight with Faustmann and Batucan is newcomer Andres Borromeo, who takes on the role of Matthew. Only his second production with REP (his debut was in last year's "Rapunzel! Rapunzel! A Very Hairy Fairytale"), Borromeo is equal parts funny and charming as the happy-go-lucky son who wants to start a brand-new life in his father's house. For director Baby Barredo to trust this guy with this role says a lot about this leading-man-in-the-making.
Under Barredo's guidance, the momentum of the story stays faithful to Chappell's book. But in this day and age, when the society has become more tolerant and/or accepting of unconventional relationships among family members, as evidenced by the increasingly controversial plots in some Filipino movies and TV dramas, the "surprises" that "Father's Day" is trying to unleash is not as shocking anymore. After watching this British comedy, one realizes that "Hey, we're no different from what's happening out there!" Thus, there's little to be excited about with regards to this play's story. Nowadays, the audience demands grittier material to keep them interested, more so in getting them to see a show.
REP's "Father's Day" runs now through April 14 at Onstage Greenbelt 1 in Makati City. Get tickets (P1,200-P1,500) at TicketWorld.com.ph.
Photos: Repertory Philippines