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A peep of moonlight: A review of TP’s Pangarap sa Isang Gabi ng Gitnang Tag-araw

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Photo by Christian Ralf Dugan

In celebration of William Shakespeare’s 400th death anniversary and their 30th anniversary with the theme #Transformance, Tanghalang Pilipino presents Rolando Tinio’s Filipino translation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream titled Pangarap sa Isang Gabi ng Gitnang Tag-araw—a Shakespearean tale of people from different yet merging worlds, connecting through the repercussions of their own comical, conflicting, and confusing situations.

A retrospect of two worlds

From the brilliant direction of Carlos Siguion-Reyna and Rody Vera’s dramaturg, the play’s outset exhibits a fierce mood as Teseo (Teroy Guzman), the Duke of Athens, seizes Hipolita (Jackie Lou Blanco) and vigorously arranges their wedding to be held in a palace in Athens. Jackie Lou, in her excellent comeback on theater stage, shows a powerful exposition of femininity and oppression among women while Guzman, in his first-ever Tanghalang Pilipino production, does the opposite—portraying the culture of classical patriarchy and dominion among constituents.

 The play advances as Egeo is introduced with his daughter, Hermia, together with Lisandro and Demetrio to consult about his plan with Teseo. A tragic reflection of a thorny love story, Egeo pursues his plan to arrange a fixed marriage between Hermia and Demetrio, knowing full well of Hermia and Lisandro’s genuine affection for each other. Meanwhile, Hermia’s childhood friend Helena abhors herself in her failure to make someone fall in love with her, especially Demetrio whom she’s willing to give her heart to. In an unprecedented progression of the four lovers’ storyline, Toni and Lhorvie parade as two conventional female characteristics; the former who has everything yet still disrupted by destiny, and the latter as someone ill-fated but falls into unanticipated events, with both being trapped in circles of misunderstanding.

In the realm of fairies and fantasies, King Oberon (Audie Gemora), and his queen Titanya (Liesl Batucan), are arguing about their claims to a boy Titanya who has allegedly stolen from Oberon. Oberon plots a revenge on how to claim the boy, with his servant Puck (Aldo Vencilao), using a special flower which brings exceptional magic—and this is how all the muddling starts to mound as the story progresses. In the presence of their amazing roles, Audie and Liesl give justice to their characters with their deep-seated professionalism and passion for theatre, balancing comedy and class as their roles progress. Of course, the play wouldn’t be able to captivate the humor of the audiences without the aid from Flute (Rafa Siguion-Reyna), Snout (Kristofer Kliatchko), Peter (Ybes Bagadiong), Snug (Doray Dayao), and Bottom (Jonathan Tadioan)—a group of frustrated actors trying to incorporate various theatre characters in their most promising and hilarious characterization.

Amid the shows depth and complexity, the actors excellently elevate their part in response to the entirety of a classical story and exhibit their connections in the latter part of the play.

On the substance

Although the play is a translated adaptation of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, some dialogues—especially the scenes in the palace—were conversed in English. Director Carlos Siguion-Reyna clarified the use of language difference to “stress the political situations” and to emphasize the passion in using the translated version. Nevertheless, the story still successfully exhibited its necessary messages despite language diversity.

One of the most iconic parts of the play is the dialogue, which has been brilliantly translated by Rolando Tinio, a National Artist for Theatre and Literature. Powerful phrases and imageries were astoundingly delivered by the cast wherein a sheer main idea is extracted in spite of complicated structures and rhetorical words. Having variety in raw emotions, Pangarap sa Isang Gabi ng Gitnang Tag-araw highlights the significance of trust and connections among your peers and our relevance to a bigger part of our own stories.

Behind the diverse feelings of the characters, humor and excitement still find a special place in the corners of storyline. The value of truth is being exhibited in the times where everyone is confused, as well as the importance of accepting the people between our predicaments. Moreover, this classical adaptation focuses on the consequences of desires that can ruin someone’s existence in the long run—if we fail to mend the troubles we make.

***

Playing at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute at the Cultural Center of The Philippines (CCP) until October 16, this limited run of Pangarap sa Isang Gabi ng Gitnang Tag-araw by Tanghalang Pilipino in celebration of their 30th year manifests the classic yet contemporary relevance of Shakespeare in our modern society, and how opportunities are available for everyone if we learn to strive until the very end—regardless of the darkness in the path we take.