Repertory Philippines, the English-speaking theatre company in the country opened its theatre season for 2014 with a 1966 play of Frederick Knott titled ‘Wait Until Dark’ and the talented Liesl Batucan as the lead character, the blind Susy Henderson.
Perhaps, this is one of the most powerful performances that Batucan has ever displayed since her involvement in Tanghalang Pilipino’s ‘Stageshow’ in 2014 also created such a stir.
There is no other theatre artist who can sustain the kind of energy from the beginning till the end, only Liesl can do it, and she did it again as a ‘recently’ blinded housewife and a target of three con-men (Arnel Carrion as Roat, Joel Trinidad as Mike Trenton, and Robbie Guevara as Croker) in search of a heroin stuffed inside a doll. Susy’s husband Sam (Lorenz Martinez) innocently brought from Canada as a favour to a woman who just got murdered and had relations with Mike and Croker.
The five other cast members also delivered the goods very well. Trinidad, being a long-time friend of Batucan—both are able to provide such ‘connection’ that their audience were trying to guess, but could still feel that ‘rapport’ onstage. Guevara, who was very vocal about doing a straight show also, did a great comeback as the other thief. Arnel Carrion as Harry Roat Jr. was one that the audience cannot deny–he owned the stage as the main antagonist of the story. Despite the limited time he had to prepare for the role since he replaced Jamie Wilson who got injured during a rehearsal. Another revelation was Daniella Gana as Gloria.
Miguel Faustmann, the play’s director who also did a spectacular job via ‘Boeing Boeing’ for the company in the previous year. In this current offering, he also showed such versatility and strength in doing a suspense-drama play. Pushing Batucan to showcase her finest performance, he has secured her main star with acting awards in theatre award-giving bodies next year.
Batucan’s Susy is one that will make her audience truly identify with her character. She was able to evoke the five senses; making her audience identify the struggles she went through in the process of breathing into the role.
“According to Miguel, my ears are my eyes. And when you are blind, the other senses become sharper,” she describes her preparation for the role, which made it very effective onstage.
When asked if she has to choose, which among the three remaining senses are important to her and in what particular order, she was quick to say, “It’s the sense of feel, smell, and taste.”
Batucan also stressed that the sense of hunch or ‘kutob’ in Filipino is also included.
She also admitted that from the film adaptation which featured the late Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993), she has bigger shoes to fill in since it gave the actress two best actress nominations–the Academy and Golden Globe in 1968.
The show’s assistant director is Toff de Venecia who did manage to showcase what Faustmann envisioned for the show. The set design was superbly done by the director himself—Miguel Faustmann. Its lighting designer is John Batalla as he mixed and matched well the lights to create the needed emotions in the scenes, and the sound designer is Jethro Joaquin who also gave the sense of thrill as the story progressed.
The straight play opened on January 17 and will close on February 9 at Greenbelt One’s Onstage. For tickets, contact TicketWorld at telephone number (632) 8919999 or log on to its website.