Mar 20, 2007

[Theater] Gay Birds

Every gay man needs culture in his life to make him whole and my partner and I managed to find the time to watch Repertory Philippines' production Gay Birds, a comedy based on Jean Poiret's musical La Cage aux Folles. This is the same play that inspired the Hollywood comedy The Birdcage.

The performance was a play and not a musical - allow me to make that distinction. As much as I was hoping for a musical (since I'm such a sucker for them), it wasn't the case. Of course this didn't make the play all that bad - just a minor disappointment that you can easily get past.

The story centers around a gay couple - one being the owner of a club that features drag performers and the other the "star" of this same club. To add that local twist, the time-place setting was changed to Ermita during the last years of the Martial Law era, which helped provide it an interesting place in history as well as access to the fun and vibrancy of the disco age. The club owner, George (as played by Arnel Carrion), learns that his son, Emil (as played by Topper Fabregas), is engaged to be married to the daughter of the leader of a religious movement. Emil pleads with his father to pretend to be straight in order to make good impression for the daughter's family when they come to visit later that week. What ensues his a humorous attempt by the family to become something they're not.

The play wasn't amazingly funny, I have to admit. There's the need for a whole lot of talking and the writers did their best to keep the story development interesting by inserting a generous amount of "gay lingo" into the dialog to keep witty and humorous. The producers went as far as including a little glossary of terms inside the playbill. The story somewhat drags in the middle but certainly picks up towards the end.

Kudos to the set design - I'm a sucker for multiple entrances and exits that allow for dynamic scenes and possibilities. As expected, the comic relief character Jacob (as played by Jejie Esguerra) stole the show with his multiple costume changes in homage to some of history's most memorable musicals and shows.

Gay Birds is currently running at Greenbelt Onstage until April 1 with shows at 08:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 03:30pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets go for 550, 350 or 250 unless you have a season pass for Repertory Philippines.

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