Teatro La Verdad, the resident theater company of the La Verdad Christian College in Caloocan, presented Floy Quintos’ Ang Kalungkutan ng mga Reyna (First Place, Dulang May Isang Yugto, 2008 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature).
I was invited to attend and watch the production last Sunday (February 10, 2018) during the theater company’s Media Critic Night. The play was slated to hold a Matinee and Gala presentation on February 13 and 14, 10AM and 4PM, respectively.
The moment I received the invitation for me to attend the production, I decided not to read this much-admired Virgin Labfest V production’s script, knowing for sure that doing so will spoil the story for me.
First, My Principle in Writing This Reaction
In writing a review of a theater play, film or music, I make sure that I have watched the production first. Especially for theater productions, I look for how well the actors give justice to the characters they are playing in light of how the playwright envisions his or her play’s characters’ role elevate the whole play, its message and overall impact to the audience.
The aesthetic of a play and without it will be largely determined by the way the actors portray the character in line with the vision of the playwright. Hence, I review a production based on the story as a whole through the way the actors portrayed their roles.
The play “Ang Kalungkutan ng mga Reyna” written by Floy Quintos is deceptively simple yet will make one think deeply about leaders, kings and queens of countries and state through the emotions that the character of the queen, Yolanda Cadiz, evokes.
Quintos wrote a realistic queen in Yolanda Cadiz’ character that you will feel that her majesty’s emotions were plucked straight out of the realities each one of us feel on a daily basis. Such character – based on her lines, facial expressions, pauses, shouts, eye movement – is so dense with emotions ready to inspire before the audience deep feelings of pathos, pity, rage and even frustrations, and all of the other emotions every time Yolanda delivers her lines.
In other words, Yolanda Cadiz’ character is a complicated and complex one that if you are the director, you should surely know that getting your muse to play the role is no easy feat. The Yolanda in the director’s mind should be not only a thespian and experienced in portraying a difficult character but an ace theater actress to boot.
As in the play, Yolanda Cadiz, the queen, seems to have amassed great powers and this presents to her big, big challenge since she realized that good motive alone is not enough to govern a nation, er, an archipelago with 7,107 islands, populated by a multi-ethnic race each with unique beliefs, languages, dialects, preferences, religious affiliations, social standing, and self interest.
Phoebe Grace Castro, the actor who played Yolanda Cadiz, is a good choice. Not only her portrayal of Yolanda brimming with deft grace and intensity, it was also as if all gamuts of human emotions are inside her, making it all so convenient for her to just release them freely in whatever time or moment she desires. That in her honest and realistic portrayal of Yolanda Cadiz, there were countless times I feel the hair out of my spine raising.
And what have I learned from her role? Is this how queens (even kings, presidents, prime ministers, and even dictators) think? What if the leaders we elected think and regard with high importance only but the ‘matter of style’ – their hair, dress or make-up?
So ‘Ang Kalungkutan ng mga Reyna’ is also the story of Marcel de Alba, an international hairdresser (er, beautician) who’ve already served queens from countries in Europe. He regards his job not as a mere job, but a vocation that in spite of how well or not well he was treated or what type of person he is serving, he will be there as a loyal servant until the end.
Nonetheless, Marcel de Alba is a complicated character expressed in the different stages of the story — his once being fickle-minded, his honesty in questioning Yolanda’s point of view about the latter’s perspective about monarchy, until his having felt pity to the queen, and more. Yet Ishmael Troy Vicente, the lead who portrayed Marcel de Alba, has realistically portrayed all the difficult emotions and nuances his character demands.
The Director’s Take
For the director Victor U. Solano, he regards this play of Quintos special, saying “it holds a special place in my heart.” True to his statement that he’s out to make a true work of art out of passion, I was able to feel that passion seeps through from start until the end of the play.
The play is genuinely funny but it’s also hard to laugh at some parts when you know that the joke is on us, Filipinos. “Ang Kalungkutan ng mga Reyna” is a two-hour production that mirrors who we are as a nation, questions what is the Filipino soul, and gives sketch of a Philippines with troubled past and history that continue to haunt us, regime after regime.
Is the Philippines’ aspirations for change and reform possible only through its leaders? I doubt and I thought Floy Quintos, as well as Victor Solano will agree that change does not lie in the leaders alone. It still lies in the people, the Filipino people. I guess Marcel sums it up well when he said that change in governance will entail years and years of continuous work, unity and, all the more, by every concerned citizens, and not just by change in trendy hairstyle, a new, well decorated, shiny crown, or by playing Judy Garland’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as a marching tune.
Victor Solano’s direction is a great feat in itself – from his careful and detailed use of lighthing, sound accompaniment, and the set – all sits well to the timing of the lines, emotions expected from the characters, and all.
The director also has effectively makes sure that he blended well the elements of a dramatic play and parody – bringing all of his audience right in front of the characters who are in their secretive chambers of palaces and kingdoms.
Is the play effective? Yes, because in what the playwright and the director wanted us to get out of our questions, they have given us a glimpse of what’s inside the room of a sitting queen, what topic or matters of state they are dealing with, or what things they are talking about, and what if by a twist of fate, the Philippine political system magically transforms into a monarchy.
About Teatro La Verdad
Teatro La Verdad began in 2012 and was able to present three seasons of contemporary plays in the past five years. Among the plays produced by the theater company are: “Ang Paglilitis kay mang Serapio”, “Despidida de Soltera”, and “Ma-te”.
Cast and Crew
YOLANDA CADIZ – Phoebe Grace Castro
MARCEL DE ALBA – Ishmael Troy Vicente
MINISTRO – Neal Kristoffer Sinajon
MGA HENERAL – Mark Jones Mararac (Prinsipe ng Kidapawan), Mark Anthony Silverio (Vizconde ng Nueva Vizcaya), Renel Dela Cruz (Duke ng Dipolog), Raffy Garcia (Konde ng Candaba)
URDUJA – Mikee Boisilio
Director: Victor U. Solano
Scenic Designing: Al-vie Tansengco
Lighting Designing: Roland Galvez
Sound Designing: Clarence Uriel Bermudez
Technical Director: Von Christ Tagalogon
Marketing Management: Judy Ann Punzalan