Don’t get me wrong. The musical is awesome! Shades of the dark setting and powerful pieces of “Les Miserables” and “Jekyll & Hyde”, this is what Repertory Philippine’s Miong should’ve been. With music by Ryan Cayabyab and book by National Artist For Literature (DADAS) Bienvenido Lumbera, song, poetry and prose come together under Audie Gemora’s direction to deliver a heavy-handed message.
I’ve never been a fan of Mark Bautista. His Crisostomo Ibarra was a powerful presence on stage. He should do more of these. All of the supporting characters had their moments. Cris Villonco‘s Maria Clara was not the typical helpless damsel in distress. Padre Damaso, Kapitan Tiago, and the supporting cast had their moments.
Don Tiburcio and Doña Victorina really reminded me of the Thenardiers from Les Miserables. But even though, they were very slapstick-ish. I felt that their pretentiousness have real life counterparts in the society pages.
The power of this play really comes from how powerful, and at times creepy, the production staged key scenes. Elias sung conversation with Ibarra is particularly dark and heavy with meaning. The mock revolution staged by Padre Salvi to frame Ibarra. These are moments that just have to be seen live!
We accuse ourselves of having really short memories. I really thought that applied to anything after the EDSA Revolution. Turns out we’ve been forgetting more often, and for much longer.
This wasn’t a light-hearted night at the theater. If you want a kick in the ass that just happens to be accompanied by powerful music and prose, this version of Noli Me Tangere is for you. Art can be though-provoking and disturbing. This one did both for me.