Teatro Tomasino’s Panandalian delights audiences even for a fleeting moment.

We can’t deny the satisfaction we get from watching a delightful play, especially if it’s for free. Last September 25-27, Teatro Tomasino showcases just that with not only one, but two plays in an opening production entitled: Panandalian. And as the title suggests, the audience were definitely enamored and moved even for a fleeting moment before going on the daily grind.

Girl’s Night Out

The first play featured was Traje de Boda by Maria Kristine Roxas, once a winner for the one-act play category of the prestigious Don Carlos Memorial Awards. It revolves around an all-girl group of friends in what is supposed to be a bridal shower for their companion. They eagerly wait for the bride-to-be, and like typical girlfriends who wait for that “one friend”, end up chatting about each other’s lives, particularly that of their own relationships.  

The conversation amuses to a varying degree as each of the four characters distinctively play out their personalities, like an archetypal portrayal of the middle-aged cosmopolitan Filipina, slowly unfolding their own narratives as they admit to their frustrations in life and love. There’s Lourdes, a lawyer handling annulment cases, who vents about her dependent husband of 3 years, not recognizing the wide age gap of 10 years between the 2, she being the older one. Grace, on the other hand, submissively commits herself to her partner but gradually forgets a more important commitment, a commitment to one self. Then there’s Amy, an ad-agency professional, who can’t seem to rekindle the flame with her current partner, thus looks for other means. Lastly Stella, the fashion editor, admits to having a hard time letting go of her husband even if she knows his real “gender preferences”.

The clever use of punchlines, slapstick, and even irony well reflected on the play’s natural humor, never failing to make the audience laugh even at the extent of the character’s misery. Still the audience was not prepared of the heart-warming effect dawned upon them as each friend shared their heartache and tragedies on commitment and marriage, especially to that of Grace and Stella. It has become poignant as it is comical, leaving a trace of reality for adult women out there. Like every girl’s night out, Traje de Boda was truly a fun celebration of what it means to be not only a wife, but also a woman in our society today.

Crazy in Love

The second featured play was Niel de Mesa’s Huling Ensayo ko Para Sa’yo, where an obsessive guy prepares his “Nagmamahal” speech to his “Minamahal” in what he deems as his most awaited evening.  The man’s gripping monologue implies his vigorous pursuit to his beloved at every corner of the globe, collecting ketchup packets and chocolates the beloved is very fond of.  So, it’s easy to assume that he could be a creepy stalker willing to follow his beloved within the depths of Europe. Or he could just be like everyone else who has been in love, capable of falling to madness and being highly obsessed to one’s own “Minamahal”. 

Despite his sheer lunacy, the character projects our own yearning of being acknowledged by our own beloved. And in turn, projects humanity’s fear of loneliness in its rawest form. His very last piece, an ode to unrequited love, emancipates him from the shackles of his own obsession. Through this, he fully accepts the possibility that his beloved would never come, and in turn learns to let go.

Following the Dadaism art movement, production design was on point as the setting gave the audience a feel of the deranged mind of the character, adding panache to the play. The audience definitely intrigued by this set-up, can’t help but question the character’s own motives.

Panandalian’s success isn’t a fleeting moment

The production’s success would not be possible without the members who have put a lot of effort for making it all work, even if it was held during the dawn of the school year. Kudos to the actresses of Traje de Boda who greatly delivered and brought their characters, making each woman relate and anticipate what’s to come of our adulthood. And of course, the actors who convincingly played as lunatics in Huling Ensayo ko para Sayo. This production was directed by JC Ribuyaco.

Panandalian is also the recurring theme for Teatro Tomasino’s 38th season as the premiere theatre guild of UST. The recruitment production is still the tip of the iceberg, which entails that the theatre guild has a lot more in store for us for this academic year. Panandalian may have delighted audiences even for just a fleeting moment but its success will definitely last.