30 January 2008

A review of Dogeaters

originally posted at leaflens.multiply.com
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yeah i know, i owe myself this review. wala lang. i make it a point to make kinda formal reviews once in a while in order for me to continue on the anti-rust punditry personal exercise of mine.

so here it is.


BARKING UP THE WRONG MEDIUM:
JESSICA HAGEDORN'S "DOGEATERS"


saw this stage play version of fil-am writer jessica hagedorn's bestselling novel last november 2007 when atlantis productions staged it. it was directed by Rent director bobby garcia.

took me quite a while to actually sit down and write this down because...i hated it. i hated it as much as i loved the novel. the novel is one of my top favorite novels of all time, as in super hands down talaga. bow ako sa writing prowess ni jessica dito sa librong ito. when this was assigned to us in a literature back subject sa MA ko, wow man, it blew my mind that someone could think of such a concept and actually put it on paper, and put it there super creatively. yeah i know, it's either you hate it or you love it, pero ako, i super duper love this novel.

which brings us to the play...hay...early on, when i read somewhere na nilapitan nga siya to have this novel tuned into a play, jessica was lost in thinking how -- as in, how do you make it into a stage play? sabi nga niya, mas bet niya kung film, at kung film, parang mas may idea siya kung paano ito ie-execute.

and i agree with the lola, hundred percent. hindi kasi pang-stage material itong material niya. i could also visualize it as a film. wala e, hindi maganda ang translation. medyo patay-patay sa blocking, yung pacing minsan ang daming lull in between scenes, tapos parang puro daldal lang. nawala yung super visual element ng kuwento na sa akin ay iyon ang buhay niya. i could see this as a screen language translation, not stage. hindi siya tumatayo as interesting sa stage.

what sustained my interest lang in this play is the acting. siyempre top caliber ang actors, and the acting was, expectedly, great. i like jon santos' take on the role of that gay owner of the disco club. okay yung shift niya into campy disco drag queen to sensitive pailalim na tibak mode chever. and andoy ranay was just a hoot as imelda marcos grabe. nakakatuwa yung mga nuances niya hihi. super-cute pa rin si jenny jamora ba yun, yung nasa Stop Kiss lesbian play ng new voice dati at saka Women of Malolos ng DUP ba o UP Rep? i forgot na. kewl siya talaga. gina alajar's ever-praying military wife role was just superb, man. swak sa kanya ang role. yun nga lang, parang naghahanap ng camera ang performances nilang lahat, na gusto mong ilawan experimentally, pasabugin mo ang liwanag, i-drain mo hanggang maging gritty grainy, i-frame and reframe mo ang parts nila while moving the cam, i-saturate and desaturate ang color sa postprod, etc. yun yun e -- naghahanap siya ng ibang avenue to demonstrate the point of the whole narrative. at yun nga, mas bagay siyang film kesa stage play. the play was not able to get the dynamism of the multiple parallel storylines, the grittiness of each character's take on the marcos regime (it's about people in seedy maynila during the marcos regime, centering on the family of a fil-am balikbayan and the different characters that are connected in her life), and the criss-crossing of all of these paths.

such was its dynamism nga. kaya nga my book report about this was entitled "when dali met flaherty" or something like that, meaning the text talks about situations based on real-life events in philippine history (eg the similarity between ninoy's killing and the assassination of a makabayan senator in the book, etc.) but its retelling/re-weaving kumbaga is so surreal and postmodern that sometimes you have to step back and think a bit before proceeding to read. so dali, as in salvador dali, the surrealist painter and filmmaker who spearheaded that whole art movement, and flaherty, as in robert flaherty, the acknowledged father of the documentary film. mesh silang dalawa in style, and that's what the book has, in form and content. kaya siya exciting. kaya ko siya gusto...as a novel.

kaya imagine my disappointment...hay, sayang. oh well. sarap tuloy i-propose sa kanya na gawin na lang niyang film ito...

buti na lang nanood kami ng avenue q the next month. happiness! but that's another review.

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