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Repertory Philippines' Shakespeare in Hollywood

Two worlds, both alike in prestige and reputation
On stage by Repertory Philippines', we see them together
From being skeptic to really enjoying their relations
All hell breaks loose as the theater is filled with laughter.

If those verses doesn't sound remotely familiar—albeit nowhere near (not even on the same planet) the level as the original wordplay Shakespeare could whip out—then you probably flunked literature or have no idea of the tragedy that defined all tragedies—Romeo and Juliet. But this production by Repertory Philippines is not about the two star-crossed lovers, nor is it a tragedy.

Shakespeare In Hollywood is a comedy about the poet's A Midsummer Nights Dream's characters Oberon, King of the Fairies, and his court jester Puck, who both somehow landed in a movie set as actors playing themselves in Hollywood. That in itself is chaos waiting to happen. Add to that a story of love, a bimbo, censorship, and a magical flower—well, it borders on ridicule, but you just have to see and experience the play to laugh with me here.

Hats off, first and foremost, to Cris Villonco: I appreciate you more now than when I saw you first as a little girl singing on TV. What got my attention to watch the play with anticipation was the moment Villonco went in for her first scene. I didn't even notice at first that it was her. Having seen her her in The Joy Luck Club and now in this play is an amazing transformation, a testament to her versatility as a stage actress. The accent, the clothes, the makeup, and yes, the well-endowed front-top-and-center, may have helped her portray Hollywood bimbo Lydia to her fullest potential. She, in character, was even the obvious choice for a few last words from Rep, because she—or her character, by her portrayal—leaves a mark the audience will surely remember.

First girl Only girl in the scene: "I'm all grown up now, thank you."
or, Can you guess who's playing a gay guy here?

That said, the whole cast did not disappoint either. They all did a good job in playing their roles. Allow me to mention Max Reinhart (Robie Zialcita) as Austrian director, censorship man Will Hays (Miguel Faustmann), Daryl (Topper Fabregas) the assistant, Puck (Red Conception) as the playful jester, and of course, Olivia (Caisa Borromeo) and Oberon (Hans Eckstein), King of the Fairies. Repertory Philippines is where seasoned actors are at home. Putting up a play is hard work; sets, sponsors, tickers, and rehearsals are a "labor" of love. So, props to the whole production team for making stage production appear effortless, and highly artistically done at that (read: light changes and sound effects/echoes).

Producer-director-censorhip is pretty much still the a thing of today.

Not that these are bad but why are your promotional shots in black and white?
Or, Why the hell don't you have a shot of Olivia and Oberon together? Or just Oberon and Puck?

Now, may I just say: how people spoke during Shakespeare's time is so romantic. It drains one of all cynical-ness and fills it with passion and awe. Eckstein as Oberon conversing in Shakespeare-speak with a "mere mortal" is win. I love it. But I guess, fashion sense during Shakespeare's time is still a downer. (But the production team did a great job replicating them!)

Repertory Philippines' Shakespeare in Hollywood gets and eight-point-two, for hilarious comedy with little speck of magic and love. 

*photos courtesy of Repertory Philippines


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