Review: TWENTY QUESTIONS, 20 Years Later

'Twenty Questions' plays at the Mirror Studio Theatre until May 28.

By: May. 25, 2023
Review: TWENTY QUESTIONS, 20 Years Later

Manila, Philippines--If you were to stage a 20-year-old two-hander post-pandemic, it’d be a smart move to update its directorial decisions and the script’s words and dialogues, especially with the play’s themes about young love, pre-marital sex, and peer pressure meant to resonate, at the least, with the Gen Zers today.

That’s the proposition on which Theatre Titas’ 20th-anniversary production of Juan Ekis’ “Twenty Questions” is built upon. The late ‘90s youth speak “aber” or “kokote” in the original script, for its obsolescence, made the cutting floor so that today’s slang words “naol” or “yarn,” for instance, could make this iteration sound up-to-date or still “cool.” 

Ingeniously though, this short one-hour play runs on weekend evenings only at the Mirror Studio Theatre along Kalayaan Avenue, in the bustling Poblacion, Makati, where the youth (with disposable incomes) party on Friday and Saturday nights.  In addition, ounces of wine from Three Hens Wine are even served among the young playgoers before the start of every show.

It does help the two-hander is top-billed by young actors: Isabelle Prado, who plays Yumi, naughty on the outside but brittle on the inside, and Diego Aranda, who plays Jigs, your typical boy next door that you can bring home to momma, and who’s loud and proud about his anti-stance on pre-marital sex. 

Both the actors, Isabelle and Diego, work well together on that small stage with an unkempt bed off-center, which makes the push-and-pull dynamics of the rather claustrophobic setting of the play isn’t a liability at all. There’s this air of odd chemistry between them, which makes the audience glued to what’s going on stage.

Cheese Mendez, the show’s director and set designer, ensures a safe, intimate space between his actors, especially during Yumi’s “darkest secret” reveal. The set divider, on stage right, which doubles as the room’s semi-see-through bath cubicle, serves as a “mild panic room” when each actor breaks away from their scene partner a few times--each either gets annoyed or finds it hard to answer a posed question right away. 

The dialogues, written in present-day Tagalog-English, make the exchange of surprises, “exes baggage,” and life-changing realizations from the two characters sound and feel authentic, or perhaps too cliché as we hear the same stories from our friends or in soaps.

On paper, the show’s premise is simple: A college barkada stays true to its tradition of raffling off a 24-hour stay for two, with alcoholic drinks in tow, in a low-cost hotel.  This year’s winners are Yumi and Jigs, who belong to the same circle of friends but were never close. To know each other better, Jigs suggests the game of “Twenty Questions,” where each throws a question, whether mundane or thought-provoking. 

As expected, the exchange of questions between Yumi and Jigs begins with the safer ones: “What’s your greatest frustration in life? or “Did you ever have doubts about your sexuality?” until the proceedings become more and more personal, especially when drinking alcohol is part of the night’s agenda: “Tell me your darkest secret that nobody knows” or “If you were to be locked up in this room again, who would you want the next guy to be?”

So, does Juan Ekis’ “Twenty Questions” live up to its 20-year legacy today--that being a beloved rom-com on stage among university and community theater groups?

When I saw the show, the audience laughed and sighed in the right places. 

The conceit if Yumi and Jigs were indeed answering the questions truthfully or not, or were simply drunk, rests on the audience’s take on the matter.

How I wish, though, that the roles were reimagined as gender-bending; wouldn’t that be a more mind-blowing update?

Theatre Titas presents the 20th-anniversary production of Juan Ekis’ “Twenty Questions” at the Mirror Studio Theatre until this Sunday only, May 28.

Photo: Dulcinea Zulueta


Photo/Video: HAMILTON Officially Launches First International Tour Photo
Photo/Video: HAMILTON Officially Launches First International Tour

Pulitzer Prize-winning musical 'Hamilton' officially began its first international tour with its cast members, plucked from various 'Hamilton' productions worldwide, making their bows on Sept. 21, 2023.

Video: RAMA, HARIs Ronelson Yadao Talks the Significance of Restaging Dance Classics Photo
Video: RAMA, HARI's Ronelson Yadao Talks the Significance of Restaging Dance Classics

Ronelson Yadao, Alice Reyes Dance Philippines’ artistic director, who also plays Rama, meets us on stage and discusses the progress of their revival production of the rock opera ballet 'Rama, Hari' a few days before its opening.

TWENTY QUESTIONS Gets Another Round of Performances (And Wine)! Photo
TWENTY QUESTIONS Gets Another Round of Performances (And Wine)!

After a sold-out run just four months ago, 'Twenty Questions,' Juan Ekis’ Palanca-winning one-act play, returns to the Mirror Studio Theatre in Poblacion, Makati, on the weekends from Nov. 10 to 19.

Nominations Open For The 2023 BroadwayWorld Philippines Awards Photo
Nominations Open For The 2023 BroadwayWorld Philippines Awards

Nominations are now open for the 2023 BroadwayWorld Philippines Awards. The 2023 Regional Awards honor productions which had their first performance between October 1, 2022 through September 30, 2023.

From This Author - Oliver Oliveros

Oliver is a seasoned organizational communication, public relations, and digital marketing professional who works with CEOs and young professionals to hone their creativity, stakeholders' engageme... Oliver Oliveros">(read more about this author)


#repshow# in[i]# Hamilton
The Theatre At Solaire (9/17-11/26)Tracker
#repshow# in[i]# HALIMAW
Teresa Yuchengco Auditorium (10/04-10/07)
#repshow# in[i]# Twenty Questions
Mirror Studio Theatre (11/10-11/19)
#repshow# in[i]# Boses at Aral Concert
Music Museum (10/28-10/28)

Recommended For You