Rainy days are almost here again. For many it is a relief after the scorching heat has burned all of us these past months. But for others, especially in low areas, the rainy season means a season of flood and possible disasters again. But also this season, a refreshing play is about to re-open that Filipinos would definitely relate to.
The play “Rak of Aegis” staged by PETA, is a story of a community that has been hit by the typhoon and has left the community completely devastated just like what has happened to most communities post Ondoy and Yolanda. The play shows the strength, positivity and resilience of Filipinos amidst disasters. Mixed with iconic songs from the rock band Aegis and outstanding performance by the characters, ‘Rak of Aegis’ is indeed a timely play to watch these days.
In the small town of Villa Venizia, a charming promo girl named Aileen (played by Aicelle Santos alternating Joan Bugcat) has been struggling to make ends meet. And with the recent flood that has destroyed their town, her father is about to lose his job in the shoe factory owned by Brangay Captain Mary Jane (played by Isay Alavarez-Sena alternating Kalola Aguilos). To be able to rise above their poverty, Aileen’s suitor, Tolits (played by Jerald Napoles alternating Pepe Herrera) downloads a video of Aileen singing with their flooded community in the background in hopes that somebody will discover Aileen.
Throughout the story, unexpected twists will surprise audiences and at the same time make them think of the current issues in our country.
A feast to the senses
From the story, musical scoring, actors’ performances up to the stage set-up, Rak of Aegis is indeed a feast to the senses.
The solid come-on for audiences is that the play showcased infamous Aegis rock songs. As critic Jennilee Chuaunsu said, it was about time that these iconic songs were highlighted.
“The heart-wrenching lyrics and anthemic songs are perfectly suited for the stage. With the popularity of musicals that feature pop/rock songs such as Mamma Mia, American Idiot the Musical, We Will Rock You, Ejay, and Sa Wakas, it was only a matter of time…
Twenty Aegis songs were used in the whole play including the famous hits “Luha”, “Halik”, “Sundot”, Christmas Bonus” and “Basang-basa sa Ulan”. The songs chosen fitted the plot and some of the songs were even modified to fit what was happening in the scenes. For example in one scene, instead of the line “ang halik mo na-mimiss ko”, it was tweaked to “Ang delubyo name-miss ko”. The script and language of the dialogues courtesy of Palanca Award-winning writer Liza Magtoto was very pinoy. It was street-slang yet very heartfelt.
Critics praised how the veteran actors made the characters truly genuine in the play:
“The cast played their roles superbly. Joan Bugcat captured Aileen’s spunky and driven character. Myke Salomon convincingly played the angsty but charming Kenny. Pepe Herrera stood out in his portrayal of Tolits, an unassuming character who often goes unnoticed. He incorporated movements and mannerisms, which made Tolits, seem like a real person
As Aileen’s irrepressible best friend, Jewel, Phi Palmos stole the show. He nailed all the funny moments and had the crowd in stitches.
Veteran actors Julienne Mendoza, Cacai Bautista, and Kalila Aguilos shone in their respective roles and hit the gravity-defying notes with ease. The audience, consisting mostly of students, whistled and cheered at every kilig moment. Simply put, the actors were effective in grabbing audience’s attention.
Director Maribel Legarda was also lauded on how she was able to make the acts clear despite the many things happening in a scene. Her blocking was dynamic ensuring that there was no boring moment on stage.
Production designer Mio Infante also made a realistic set of a perfectly depressed slum area. He remade a canal city with a floodwater filled estero, put up wooden shanties, a sari-sari store, a makeshift walkway and a small banca that ferries people to the other side. There was even real rain falling during the storm scene. On top of that, there is also the use of multi-media complementing the action happening on stage. Aileen’s famous YouTube video was shown in TV sets, as well as TV reports and even real footage of the typhoon disaster.
The choreography of Gia Gahol was very inventive as there was use of fun props such as bubbles and umbrellas that gave the performances a youthful and fun tone.
With the fusion of such amazing elements, indeed Rak of Aegis has been a winner to many critics:
“The musical shows audiences its characters’ struggles with the elusive nature of happiness, offering a timely commentary on what it has meant to be a Filipino in the first few years of the 2010s: hoping against hope amidst the ubiquity of technology (that not all Filipinos have access to, much less utilize) and of calamities (the musical was created post-“Ondoy,” pre-“Yolanda”).”
-Walter Ang, Philippine Daily Inquirer
“Rak of Aegis is definitely a commendable effort by PETA, especially for director Maribel Legarda, writer Liza Magtoto and musical director/arranger/vocal director Myke Salomon. And aside from the music, which was obviously amazing, the Infante-Villareal tandem for the set and lights, worked very well to make it a cohesive production.
-Yasabel Yuson, Juice.ph
“Rak of Aegis is to be commended for tackling a sad reality and presenting it in an entertaining, but not exploitative, manner. The story makes you feel the plight of survivors and their mounting frustration as everything falls apart. The Filipinos’ ability to laugh and sing even during the most difficult times is something that rings true not only in the play, but in real life as well.
-Jenilee Chuaunsu, Pep.ph
Extended Play dates
Because of the show’s popularity, the play has extended its run at the PETA Theater Center in New Manila, Quezon City. It will run from June 20 to August 31, 2014. You can book your tickets through ticket world. Discounts are also available for students.