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Rem Zamora debuts as Director of ‘Cock’ on a Cheesecake?


Failing to catch Red Turnip Theater’s first production ‘Closer’ was a mistake, but to miss this one with Rem Zamora directing ‘Cock’—I can’t forgive myself if I did commit the same mistake. When it had its press preview last week, I really made sure that I will go and watch. I was glad to witness Zamora’s directorial debut.

Zamora took a bigger task this time. He's not the actor nor he's not the assistant director, but the director of Red Turnip Theater's 'Cock'. Photograph by Raul Victor Montesa.

Zamora took a bigger task this time. He’s not the actor nor he’s not the assistant director, but the director of Red Turnip Theater’s ‘Cock’. Photograph by Raul Victor Montesa.

Sitting on the bleacher’s peak, overlooking the theater-in-the-round setup or central staging—it gave me the impression that Zamora took one challenging task for his first-time as a full-fledged director—he only has actors to work with—no sets, no props, no whatsoever.

As soon as the lights went out, Zamora did a great job in unleashing the intense emotions required for his characters in this straight play written by Mike Barlett. Though minimalist in its approach, his actors were able to perfectly paint each scene with descriptive and instinctive acting.

Each scene, each exchange, the characters became more fully drawn and so as the audience. Zamora made sure that the audience is invested in each characters’ struggles, dilemmas, and perhaps their questions about life. It also allows the audience to celebrate about ‘collective humanity’.

One of the memorable lines that stuck with me was: “You’re a collection of things that don’t amount.”

The arena staging provides an unusual level of intimacy. The audience is compelled to commune with the actors onstage. Such is a venue for reflection, which could make its audience consider their reaction[s] and perhaps how they weigh their response[s] to situations presented in the play.

After Cris Villonco who starred in ‘Closer’, it’s Topper Fabregas’s turn to be on the spotlight. As John, the ‘confused’ gay partner to M (played by Niccolo Manahan), he effectively breathed into the character without any tinge of inhibition. The nuances, his eyes, his facial expressions as well as his body language—all did the trick in essaying the required scenes he’s into.

However, Manahan as John’s long-time gay lover, he provided quite a stirring performance, too. He matched the energy Fabregas emanated to his audience. He was too natural that one won’t suspect that he’s just acting it out onstage. The way he moved his fingers, his arms, his neck, his head, his eyebrows, his lips, and all mannerisms he displayed were effortless.

Manahan and Fabregas kissing. Jamora and Fabregas kissing. Photograph by Raul Victor Montesa.

Manahan and Fabregas kissing. Jamora and Fabregas kissing. Photograph by Raul Victor Montesa.

Intriguing it may be for some, but the kissing scenes between John and M as well as the one with John and W—were emotionally evoking, taxing, and heartwarming at the same time. It was handled in the most honest way.

During the Q and A, both Fabregas and Jenny Jamora (as W) admitted that the sex scene was the most difficult to tackle. Despite that Zamora was successful in graphically navigating his actors to transfer the kind of ‘feeling’ when making love—the delirious-like moaning and gestures combined were electrifying. It achieved the intended ‘orgasmic effect’ as well as the so-called shared ecstasy and intimacy between the actors and the audience.

Also, both Jamora and Audie Gemora (as F, John’s father) left too much intensity in their respective performances, especially in their confrontation scenes.

‘Cock’ is elegant because it is structured and restrained, wild at times and mild, too, in exploring relationships, issues about love, about the state of being human. It presents a question of: Who we are when we are alone? How we see ourselves, our lives, our futures and how it changes with whom we choose to be with, in a relationship?

Barlett’s play is about John’s journey as a gay partner to M and his unexpected love affair with W that led to a more complicated situation. His boyfriend and his girlfriend are not willing to give him up without a fight.

The playwright may have inserted some comic moments, but the consequences are brutally real and practical. That’s how reality bites. There is truth behind laughter masking fear or sadness, or the fear of losing someone. The audience is treated to a different experience of emotional tug-of-war.

Red Turnip Theater has taken not just a bolder step, but a riskier one by mounting this kind of ‘mature’ and ‘intelligent’ type of play. It is such a big leap.

I agree with Cris Villonco that putting up a show requires blood, sweat, tears, heart, soul, mind, and even one’s financial resources. The amount of commitment the actors gave in their respective roles and in the scenes they did—deserve a standing ovation. What they gave to put up a show is beyond comprehension. It’s artistry at its finest. It’s COCK on a Cheesecake.

This second offering of Red Turnip Theater opens on March 7, 9pm and will run until April 6, 8pm at Whitespace, 2314 Chino Roces Avenue Extension (formerly Pasong Tamo Extension); Tickets are available at TicketWorld or contact (632) 891-9999 or email to redturniptheater@gmail.com.

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About JudeisHere

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