Theater Review : Dulaang UP' The Dressing Room

Once the spotlight fades to oblivion, the true stories of laughters and pain commence.

Dulaang UP closes it’s 40th Theater Season by challenging both the intellect and affection, with the staging of “Ang Dressing Room: Kung Saan Lubusang Pangungulila ang Dulot ng Agos ng Panahon”. The play is a Filipino translation of a Shimizu Kunio original, “The Dressing Room: That which flows away ultimately becomes nostalgia.”

The play shows 4 similarly different characters, each fueled by their own desire to take the spotlight as Theater thespians, but haunted by memories and limitations. Each character, simply named Actress A,B,C, and D, shares with the audience the lives they long for and how frustratingly hard it is to attain such stature.



While Actress C and D clashes about who deserves the role of Nina in Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, it is ultimately revealed that the other two are ghost who have been putting on make up and were just waiting for their own share of spotlight. All of these happens in a decrepit dressing room at the backstage of an ongoing run of “The Seagull”.
Ohm David’s set design that highlights simple lines and monochromatic color scheme and Meliton Roxas Jr.’ lights perfectly captures the yesteryears of theater and nuances of Japanese culture.


Costumes used by the actresses (especially the transition of Actress D) and the ensemble shows the stark contrast of what roles they will be performing. Despite being set at a time when Chekhov is considered the “modern standard” in theater, Dulaang UP included a modern touch on the play by inserting some videos that compliment the visual delight on stage. Even the ensemble composed of students have are sure eye-candy with their superfluous movement and perfectly perfectly chiseled bodies (Wait. PERFECTLY. CHISELED. BODIES. AND. THEY. ARE. STUDENTS. Goodness. My beer belly suddenly sobs out of shame).

All these elements (magically intertwined by the superb direction of Alexander Cortez) matches the dark comedy and rich irony of the play that tackles the life behind the stage. Superlatives indeed, which is no longer a surprise since this is what Dulaang UP has been known for. Excellence. In the real sense of the word.

But the highlight of this play would be the four male actors who take the stage ala Japanese theater’s Onnagata. Roeder Camanag and Andoy Ranay play the role of Actress A & B respectively. Camanag, thespian that he is, dazzles in the role of an “almost” theater artist who passed away during the bombing of Nagasaki. He glides effortlessly on stage, swiftly transitioning from one dream role to another. His comedy is infectious. Andoy Ranay meanwhile, parallels the energy and comedy of Camanag. Even on moments when he doesn’t need to deliver any lines, his mere presence commands attention, and fits of laughter would surely follow. Gwyn Guanzon shines as the infallible “Nina” whose passion consumes so much of her that even reality has been more vague that her future as an artist. Jon Abella completes the cast as Actress D, whose attachment to his pillow speaks so much of his frustration of always being in the sidelines. The pillow that has been it’s solace and hiding place.

Ang Dressing Room is poignantly hilarious, pointing out the obvious frustration of both being a ‘has been’ and an ‘almost’ performer and the silence on all of the characters’ allusions of their own individual versions of reality. Placing male artists, although all equally gifted with the passion and talent worthy of the center stage, for the female roles in Ang Dressing Room was one big risk. After all, the English and Japanese originals were huge hits and has become a fave by many. But in the end, Dulaang UP was victorious in choosing the perfect casts and ensemble that has not only given life to literally dead characters, but a colorful and powerful performance to an almost lifeless life inside a dressing room.

(c) Vlad Gonzales
It’s not just about memories. It’s not just about the life (or the after life) inside the dressing room. It is about reality, and what speartes the truth, from what we want to believe as true. Ang Dressing Room hits you to the core by showcasing human nature’s greatest downfall, the “what might have beens”.Will you be willing to wait until reality strikes you hard that everything is fleeting? Or will you take chances and just follow what our hearts truly desire? This play will make you ask questions, but will never leave you confused. It is reality presented in a volume of fantasies.

Ang Dressing Room: Kung saan lubusang pangungulila ang dulot ng agos ng panahon is presented by Dulaang UP will be performed on the following dates:
April 13, 14, 15, 20, 22 (7pm)
April 16, 17 (10 am and 3pm)
April 23 (3pm)
April 24 (10am)

All performances will be at Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater, Palma hall, University of the Philippines Diliman. For more information, you may contact the Dulaang UP Office at 926 1349/ 433 7840/ 981 8500 local 2449.

Written and Review By : Erick Frago

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