Monday, August 08, 2005

Tragicomedy and Real-life Melodrama

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R'meo Luvs Dew-lhiett

Tanghalang Pilipino's re-telling of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" is a must-see. (An endorsement like that doesn't come easy, especially with all the crappy local productions lately, not just in theater, but moreso in film and television). If you haven't heard about it yet, the TP folks are staging what they call the "jologs " version of the classic tragedy at the CCP, calling it "R'meo Luvs Dew-lhiett." Went and saw it Saturday night and I gotta say, it's the most hilarious thing I've ever seen onstage since our own crappy excuse for a play back in high school. (Did I say crappy? Yeah, I meant crappy).

Of course, this is by no means the first time anyone's ever attempted to transfer Romeo and Juliet's ill-fated love affair to a contemporary setting. Robert Wise, Baz Luhrman and god knows how many others have done it before, but if I'm not mistaken, this is the first time the pair of star-crossed lovers is living in a squatter's area in Manila (Barangay Verona, but of course) infested with hardened criminals and obscenities-spewing, texting-obsessed, disco-dancing videoke enthusiasts.

R'meo has his semi-mohawk hairdo bleached, and wears the shiny, satin basketball shorts that every other tambay at the local plaza wears; Juliet, who wears pink all the time you'd think it was going out of style, is the daughter of a social-climbing mother and a spineless father; warring gang leaders Mercutio and Tybalt are the textbook kanto boys - loud, vulgar and crass; while Mercutio's trusty sidekick Benvolio is loud, vulgar, crass…and gay; Father Lorenzo carries rhum in his mailman bag and smokes weed when no one's looking while Juliet's maidservant, or rather, yaya is an old woman with exactly one tooth you'd recognize as a labandera in any damp or flooded street corner washing clothes or hanging out at the local sari-sari store, exchanging gossip with her neighborhood posse.

Remember that unforgettable balcony scene? In this version, R'meo gets to speak the following lines...

“Putsa! Ano ’yung naggli-glitter sa bintana nakatambay?
Oh my, para siyang diamonds in the sky.
Sige, tuloy mo lang ang pag-shine,
Kahit pa ang moonshine, kaya mong i-outshine.
Di hamak na mas maganda ka sa buwan.
Ay, peks man, kamukha mo si Paraluman!
Men, ang true love ko, kung alam niya lang!”

Dew-lhiett meanwhile...

Oh Romeo, Romeo, bakit ka pa naging Romeo?
Takwil mo nang pudra mo, kalimutan na pati apelido,
O ipramis mo lang na ako ang one and only,
Tatalikuran agad buong Capulleto family

Dew-lhiett goes on to say...

Nakita mo sanang pag-blush ko kung di lang madilim
Sa dami nang narinig mong sinabi kong sweet nothing.
Wish ko lang sana makapagpakipot—
Wish ko lang nabawi pa ‘yung love quote,
Pero what’s the point, pa-cute pa ba ang emote?

I know, I know, the lines are insipid and corny. But you know what, the play's so oddball and cheesy, it's funny. Damn funny. The whole thing actually works. I think people who have at least a general idea of the original script will find it doubly entertaining.

I imagine the Bard himself must be rolling in his grave. Rolling in laughter, that is. Go see it.


Later after the play I went to a friend, E's, birthday party in a bar somewhere in the metro. (I won't say where). The invite said to wear white, which I and most of my friends did. I had to wonder though why many of the celebrant's other friends chose to ignore the required attire and came wearing various other colors. Anyway, that's not really the point of this story. I went there expecting just another drinking session with some friends, nothing out of the ordinary. And it almost was, actually. Just as E was about to go home (she was really hammered), there was a heated exchange between two of the guys who had offered to take her home. The next thing I knew, punches were being thrown and my friend R was right in the middle of it. There was a lot of screaming and cursing; and after a few minutes, E fainted. Some of the other guys tried to stop the fistfight (yeah, call me a coward, but I stayed glued to my seat, I know better than to get in the middle of a physical argument between inebriated men). It got so ugly cops had to come in and "invited" one of the guys to the local police station for questioning. E, meanwhile had to be taken to a nearby hospital.

Later, after all the commotion had died down, those of us who were left downed the rest of our beers (now a bit warm) and treated ourselves to a couple of orders of crispy pata that somebody had ordered. Apart from a change in the topic of (almost drunken) conversation, it was as if nothing had happened. Go figure.


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