Choosy ako pero may ilang bagay na brand name pa lang, nag-aabot na ako ng datung. Apple. Chocknut. Mga komiks ni Carlo Vergara. Romcom ni Antonette Jadaone. Anything by Floy Quintos.
Hindi ako theater connoiseur. The few reason to get me to buy a ticket to the theater ay (1) kung maganda ang music, (2) masaya at nakakatawa, (3) may male nudity, kebs kung gratuitious at better kung for an extended period, and (4) if nakakabit ang name ni Floy Quintos.
Way before nagkaroon ng buzz that Angry Christ by Floy Quintos may be this year’s best play yet, nagtabi na ako ng pambili ng ticket. Was there any doubt it would be good? Hello, the man breathes art.
At hindi lang yung pa-artsyfartsy pang-academe-lang-makakaintindi-nito art ha, though he can produce that as well. He is at his best when he take the art for the masses and elevates it to something that will make you think from a different perspective. If ever there was a local superstar playwright, Floy would be it. His name can sell theater tickets reviews unseen. Hoy UP, give this guy a poste at Palma Hall na olreydi.
FLoy’s latest work, Angry Christ, is the fictionalized recounting of how Pinoy-American expressionist painter Alfonso Ossorio could have produced the iconic mural, The Last Judgement.
Achulee nakita ko na itong mural na ito around 30 years ago noong naglimayon ako sa Negros. Jogets pa ako noon. Wit ko masyadong naapreciate yung church itself kasi modern, eh may bias ako for old churches sa probinsiya. Nanibago rin ako dun sa mural kasi am-vibrant ng colors, reds and oranges and yellows. Tapos nga, yung center image nga ni Christ, ba’t galet? Kaya pala. The Last Judgement, nicknamed the the Angry Christ.
Malay ko bang naging major issue yun imbey na itsu ng Christ when it was first revealed. Wit ko rin kilala si Alfonso Ossorio nor was i familiar kwento. Until now.
So apparently heredero ng Victorias itong si Alfonso. Rich kid. Pero wititit siyang matatawag na truliling Ilonggo scion dahil galing originally from Manila ang pamilya niya at witchikels rin siya sa Victorias lumaki. Pabakasyon-bakasyon lang siya doon noong super-bagets siya.
Achulee it might be a stretch to even call him Pinoy at all. By age 8, binoarding school na siya sa England and by the time he went back sa Negros, may sarili na siyang buhay, career at lovelife bilang isang NyuYawker. At present, art critics in the claims him as being part of the American Expressionist movement.
As a young artist, though may talent, can’t get much respect from his peers kasi wititit niya kailangang makabenta ng painting para lumafang. Mas nirerespeto siguro noon ang struggling hungry artist. Eh paano nga naman magiging hungry artist si Ossorio eh may asucarera sila sa Pinas?
That’s when he went back to the Pinas. 11 months lang siya nagstay sa Negros. Pagkatapos niya ng mural, gumora na siya away, never to return. Buhkit?!! You too good for the Pinas bitch?! Ma! Hindi niya yata keri yung kontorversya na maluka-luka raw ang mga masses nung nakita si Christ na galit. Naborkot ang great unwashed.
Buti na nga lang raw at private yung chapel at sariling gastos ng pamilya, baka pinasira ng Catholic church ang mural.
Basta, sabisabi, pagbalik ni Ossorio sa NuYawrk, he was a changed man. The 11 months spent in the tubuhan of Negros changed him as an artist and ushered a new period of creativity for him. Parang nabuksan ang artistic floodgates. Raw. Daw. Ma. Charot-charot. Basta.
Nel Gomez makes a good Ossorio. Tunog mayaman, and with that mestizo patrician nose, his looks lends well to the period look of the play. Muma-Marlon Brando in his youth nang very light. Mukha siyang lumang tao.
Perfect foil sa kanya si Kahlil Almonte as the fictional Anselmo, with his dusky skin and deliberate Ilonggo-tinged English. Bagay sila. Idadownload ko ang scandal nila kung meron, kaso witchikels dahil walang ganap.
Though the play tries to sell something between Ossorio and Anselmo, nothing really panned out kasi magkaiba sila ng concerns. I felt that they were fighting different battles separately. Ossorio’s was about his art. Anselmo’s was about daily survival as a hacienda laborer. Hindi talaga nagkita.
Kung may ganap mang effort at seduction, it would probably would have been half-hearted on the part of Nel’s Ossorio. Bakakinakati siya lang siya nang slight at kung ayaw ni Anselmo, aba, gwapo at mayaman, he could easily get his fix elsewhere.
I felt that the aborted seduction totally failed dahil Kahlil’s Anselmo doth protesteth too much. Nagpapadelight. Worried na worried siyang nachichismis na siyang palangga, eh wala namang pinapangakong kinabukasan sa kanya si Ossorio, dyug lang. Baka kung inofferan siya ng jowa-hood status, baka bumigay pa siya.
Kaso waley. Kasi, bottom-line, the torrid relationship in the play was never between the priveledged scion and the hired help. Rather, it was between the unsure artist and the blank walls. Sorry Anselmo, second rate ka lang. It was all about Art. And Legacy. And Passion, but without the exchange of body fluids.
Though Angry Christ focused on Ossorio’s struggle as an artist and a gay man, the best moment for me was with Felipe Ronnie Martinez as local carpenter/sculptor Benjamin Valenciano. Yung eksenang ino-offer niya yung localized San Jose Labrador niya to the cardinal, hindi ko naintindihan masyado yung sinasabi niya pero ramdam ko yung feels. Naiyak ako. Ito yun eh. Eto yung hinahanap ni Ossorio sa sarili niya.
Martinez, the actor, exuded deep faith, grand passion, total belief, artistic pride, and ingrained humility that, as Valenciano, may have moved the Ossorio character to look beyond techniques and florishes that is his strength, and examine first what he believes in.
Same goes with the play. Beyond the history of arts lesson, the actors’ perfect enunciation, the high brow intellectualized elocution about art and the artist, it ultimately challenges us: What do you believe in?
Hindi ko pa masyadong alam. Pwedeng isipin, pero masakit sa bangs.