Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Are You Ready To Take The Law Into Your Own Hands? - Theatre Review

What: Are You Ready To Take The Law Into Your Own Hands?
When: 26 - 29 February 2020
Where: Main Hall, Arts House
Written by: David Finnigan
Directed by: J Kanicoche
Performed by: , Blanche Buhia,  Bunny Cadag,Claudia Enriquez, David Finnigan, J Kanicoche, KIKI House of Dévine, Ji-ann Lachica, Claudia Enriquez, Efren Pamilacan, Brandon Relucio and Adrienne Vergara
Video by: Joyce Garcia
Sound design by: J Laspuna
Lighting by: Roman Cruz Jr
Stage Managed by: Sigmund Pecho
photo by Sarah Walker
Are you ready to see theatre of the scope and scale we rarely make in this city anymore? Are you ready to sit inside a whirl of energy and movement and exciting political polemic? Are you ready to be dazzled by technology and good, fun silliness? Are you ready to be afraid? Are You Ready To Take The Law Into Your Own Hands? Then come on down to Arts House and immerse yourself in Sipat Lawin's newest live cinematic experience. Hurry though. It's only on until Saturday sadly.

People talk about their theatrical endeavours being experimental, but if you really want to see experimental work you really need to check out Are You Ready...? Is it film? Is it live theatre? Is it dance? Is it cabaret? Is it bilingual? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. But this show is not political... 

Set in their motherland, The Phillipines, the Sipat Lawin ensemble have created a live action thriller movie which follows the hunt for kidnapped pop idol Gracielle V (Buhia). In a land overflowing with beauty contests and where celebrity politicians are in plague proportions, an event of this nature aught to bring out the Police in droves. But this show is not political...

When the powers that be choose to deny the kidnapping happened it is up to a teenage vlogger, Selina (Lachica), her activist older sister (Enriquez), and a rogue police woman (Vergara) to track the singer down and free her. They are chased by the Police through the streets of Manila in a jeepney, gate crash a beauty contest, find themselves in a rap and dance battle, swim the river and cross a cemetery as they follow the tracking hacking provided by Huawei technology. But this show is not political...

An hilarious high action romp, Are You Ready To Take The Law Into Your Own Hands? does not stop there. Enjoying a Brechtian meta-platform, the live film is framed by a film festival where Finnigan (writer) interviews Kanicoche (director) about the film. This interview and some other sequences interrupt the videography (Garcia) on the 3 big screens (the performance area forms a kind of horseshoe). But this show is not political...

One of the many meta-commentaries in the show examined through form and content is the question about whether there is any difference between life and art. This live filming mirrors the archetype of Selina as a modern youth who never puts her phone down and uploads every moment of her life to the internet. It also brings us to question why do we give power to celebrity and how much of this is responsible for the real fake news which is the stories politicians spin witout any basis of fact or reality? I'm not mentioning any names...Scomo,Tump... But this show is not political...

Underneath all the flash and dazzle and outrageous costumes there are significant pointers which speak to a community in crisis. Since 2016 Fillipinos have had Presidential permission to shoot and kill suspected drug criminals extra-judicially. Think about that. No process or protections to allow a chance to prove innocence. It is like "I don't like the look of you. You are poor and dirty. You must be a drug criminal. You are dead." That's one way to enact gentrification I suppose. But this show is not political...

The older sister, the activist, shows us how much folly there is in believing politicians. Senator Malaine Gutierrez (Cadag) - a character whose story very strongly resembles that of Leila de Lima - speaks out vocally against the government's policies on this matter, but as with all idols she has feet of clay. But this show is not political...

The really important question Sipat Lawin is asking is who is responsible for making the change you want to see? Is it politicians? Is it the police? Is it the activists? Or is it you - the 15 year old with a social media profile and voice more powerful than you can yet understand? But this show is not political...

Why are you waiting for someone else to fix things. Get out and be heard. There is a saying which goes 'the world is run by the people who turn up'. Sipat Lawin want you to turn up! But this show is not political...

I loved all the production elements of the play, but there were some big costume malfunctions which really shouldn't have happened. I assume there was a dress rehearsal and they are easy fixes. It was disappointing and gave it a slight air of being amateur which is not actually the case. I hope they deal with those moments rather than ignoring them.

Are You Ready To Take The Law Into Your Own Hands? is only 90 minutes but it did feel a bit longer than that. Partly because there is so much going on as the cast run around between the three staging areas, the scenes clipping together like film edits in the cinema. 

It is also partly because there are some pauses in the action as cultural information is provided. This is done well and doesn't let the humour drop, but it does interrupt the flow in a way a film wouldn't. It is fine because this isn't Hollywood. You will find it's corollary much more strongly with Bollywood!

Perhaps if this work was something other than the magnificent beast it is, I would say it tries to cover too much in it's satire, but it just works so I say viva Sipat Lawin! Sipat Lawin's work is historically boundary destroying, demanding audiences understand there is no line between art, life and politics. They are one and the same thing. They also take responsibility for modelling behaviours and the change they want to see. I think I just became a Sipat Lawin groupie! But this show is not political...

If you love Bollywood you will love this show. If you are missing the glitz and glam of Midsumma you will love this show. If you are a Brecht devotee you will love this show. If you think movies are all that, you will love this show. The only people who won't like Are You Ready To Take The Law Into Your Own Hands? are the powers that be which is why you MUST see it! But this show is not political...

4.5 Stars

No comments:

Post a Comment