Its controversial nature was probably the ‘key’ to the late Rene Villanueva’s translation and adaptation of Manuel Puig’s novel titled ‘El beso de la mujer araña’ (Kiss of the Spider Woman), written in 1983, and had its recent local production as ‘Halik ng Tarantula’; but there is one play that could match its intensity, its sensuality and its humanity—Vince Tañada’s original play titled ‘Dilaw o Pula’.
However, after the dismay of the public on BB Gandanghari’s poor performance even with all the hype of the said production—it will have its scheduled provincial tour slated soon. Prior to that, the one-act play written and directed by Carlos Palanca Awardee in 2012 will steal the scene with its more substance, meatier, more serious tone, and fiercer take of the characters acted by Philippine Stagers Foundation’s (PSF) prized actors—Chris Lim and Kierwin Larena.
Benjo, a staunch supporter of the former President of the Republic of the Philippines—Cory Aquino shared the prison cell with Emil, a Marcos loyalist for many years. Despite their differences, the two developed a beautiful friendship, founded on love, proving that love is a natural human tendency that nothing and nobody can stop; an innate feeling that anyone could feel regardless of sex. As they compete for the single slot for pardon, the two realized that their love is far more important than their freedom. As the innocent one stayed behind the bars, the one at fault insisted that he’s undeserving. But he was left with no choice but to leave not only the cell, which he regarded as his home but also where the love he nurtured through the years.
Kierwin Larena plays Emil and Chris Lim plays Benjo in this one-act production, which was first mounted in 2012 and cited as the Gender Sensitive play for the theatre company’s annual festival of original plays. A two-character play that guarantees breath-taking dialogues and scenes that any audience won’t let go till it reaches its peak and its conclusion.
Like the ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’, which was first staged in London in 1985 at the Bush Theatre, in an English language version by translator Allan Baker, starring Mark Rylance and Simon Callow—‘Dilaw o Pula’ is also set in a cell. The question is, will Larena and Lim’s portrayals match the actors’ sensitivity who portrayed in Puig’s piece? Will Tañada outshine Puig?
Also, what makes this one-act play interesting?
Tañada, opted to have two straight guys acting out the two characters, and expected to stir the audience’s curiosity; probably questioning about the two’s sexuality. ‘Dilaw o Pula’ is reminiscent to the 2005 film titled, ‘Brokeback Mountain’ directed by Ang Lee, adapted from Annie Proulx’s 1997 short story of the same title. It featured both straight film stars Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal.
Is it a gay play?
“It is not,” Tañada was quick to defend. “But it’s up to the audience to decide. I expect that the audience would be more mature in understanding the material.”
Showing on Saturday, April 20 at Philippine Stagers Foundation’s home studio at PSF Studio, 4th Floor Vincent I Bldg, 411 Calabash A cor. G. Tuazon Street, Sampaloc, Balic Balic, Manila. For more details, contact +639273913447.