Monday, September 16, 2002

DRAKULA!

I just watched CCP's Drakula last Sunday afternoon. My three friends and I went on a limb. We had gotten no feedback as to wether it was good or bad. All I had was this spread in the Inquirer featuring Tessa Prieto-Valdes modelling Danilo Franco's costumes for the show. That caught my eye.

Katrina was worried the Tagalog would be too deep or that it would run for three hours. I was worried it would end up cheesy like a lot of our other attempts at horror and dark fantasy. (|Think Romy Diaz in a red suit with prosthetic horns, laughing in a deep voice and making his eyes look big.) Then I told myself, "Oh well, at least there would be all those interesting clothes."

While the costume design was good--especially the tattered white gowns of the 3 vampire succubi, Drakula's frazzled long coat and Lucy's "wedding" dress, what was great was how all the other aspects of the production worked together to come up with one great WHOLE.

The direction was superb. Ana Valdes-Lim effectively created a mood of creepiness and horror with the help of the sound and lighting directors. Despite the low budget, it was not crass and campy at all. She made fine use of mist, gothic chanting, a bare set and finely choreographed body movements for her actors. When her Drakula first appears onstage, he carries himself with the combined movements of a bent old man and a predatory feline. Renfield as well was monkey-like with his movements.

The actors were not big names. Except maybe for the fellow named Roeder who played Drakula (I believe he had a brief stint as a recording artist) nor were Mina and Lucy mirror images of Winona Ryder and Sadie Frost. It is often a gimmick for many stage plays to get a few popular performers to help sell tickets. Being so used to that ploy, it was kind of unsettling to see these new faces. However their performances grew on me and the ensemble did very well.

The set design also hinted at the production's rather small budget. While competent, I think the production designer would have done well with a few extra pesos to spend for the set. After all, for a piece like Drakula, the set is almos another character. The stage is fairly bare--dead trees and the gate of the Count's castle at center stage, Renfield's room at the asylum on stage left and Mina and Lucy's bedrooms on stage right. Again the light, sound and mist effects combine to complete the eerie picture.

A platform rises a few meters away from the seats near the front and an area off stage is also used for Lucy's coffin. This is a great use of space and gives the lighting people a lot more to play with. The actors also walk offstage and up and down the aisles of the theater which kept things exciting.

There are a few surprises--though I won't mention them here. There's an interesting death scene and a bedroom scene.

CCP's production views Drakula partly as a horrifying monster but also a creature of lust and sexuality. It's on it's last weekend next week and word is going around already--just this morning the Inquirer devoted the front page of its Lifestyle section to a very positive review. I'm glad I took a chance and saw it.

I just love it when Halloween comes early!

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Finally. I think I have this blogger thing working. Now I can give the address to my Italian web designer.

A few bits of trivia about my web designer: He has background in theater arts and the martial arts (black belt in Taekwondo). He moved to Manila a few months ago and has already appeared in a film and a TV show. He had a role as a well-dressed thug (I'm talking dark colored three piece suit and an elegant pair of dark glasses) in "Pangako sa Iyo" which happens to be the country's top soap. He kidnaps the lead character, shoots big guns, jumps over stacks of cement stacks in a warehouse and escapes on a speedboat off the waters of Subic. He also played a similar role in a Chinese action film called "Naked Gun."

Of course I try to be extra nice when asking for revisions or extra work on my site.

Wawi, his girlfriend, helps us both out on the site and she claims he's nothing like the mean characters he plays.

I'm still not taking any chances.