The Xavier Stage presents A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Review

In a nutshell: TXS’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream/Isa ka Damgo is a wonderful, must watch play at XU Little Theater. Go get your tickets. Like, now.
Work of Art
In its new season, Realizing Shakespeare, The Xavier Stage (TXS) brings to us the adaptation by MSU Sining Kambayoka Ensemble of William Shakespeare’s well-loved comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It brings together Shakespeare’s masterful plot, the mystique and vibrancy of the pre-Islamic Maranao culture, and the depth and playfulness of the Cebuano language together in one beautifully woven piece of art. The language connection in itself is already a feat: filling in Shakespeare’s plot with native Cebuano is hard enough that you’ll get easily lost in translation. It uses the Cebuano language intricately and artfully (yes that includes rhymes), yet it is so carefully chosen that it doesn’t alienate modern speakers, thus breaking down the barriers that hinder our connection to the full range of emotion the story tells. Add to that, the ancient Maranao culture and folklore added the depth and connection that brings us closer to home. With all of these elements brought together, the adaptation, instead of coming up with a jumble of a play, breaks down the complex truths, details, and emotions and rearranges it into a simpler experience, which made it completely riveting.
The Scenes
The play took the same plot of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and blended it with Maranao culture which are surprisingly not different after all. TXS flawlessly told the story scene after scene. The transition from one act to the next  were handled very well and everything looks very professionally done. The use of live Maranao instruments to both accent high parts of the play and aid in transition between acts is brilliant.
The Characters
TXS has carefully chosen the cast, who did not disappoint at all. The once Athenian characters are changed to Maranao characters. Juel Anthony Aying and Lyla Putong plays Sultan Pata Kumilang and Potre Lawambae, whose well-portrayed calm and grace balanced out the conflicts within the plot. Roger Garcia plays Datu Sampurna, the angry father of Dayang (played by Rhea Arroyo), the sad daughter who is bound to marry Masnar, (played by Rosell Velez), who wishes to be together with Samanodin (played by Carl Cyril Manere) instead. Sohra (played by Monica Angela Pelaez) is desperately in love with Masnar. Rhea, Rosell, Carl and Monica took us efficiently through the different phases of their relationship, which made the audience laugh, gasp, and swoon together.
Disomnong (Arniel Daluz), Manabilang (Euljun Salarda), Dikasaran (Rex “Tat” Soriano), Pakasenang(Noli Paglinawan), Batuan(Junmar Ybanez) and Masiding(Jason Limbaga) are the carpenters who performed the play for the Sultan on the wedding day. The comic relief of the entire play, the final scene on the Sultan’s wedding day brought the house down to laughter and applause. Arniel handled Disomnong very well, balancing out the chemistry of the group. Manabilang was very well portrayed by Euljun as the overconfident and most lively of the bunch, to the point that even when he starts talking, chuckles can be heard all around. Rex was hilarious as Dikasaran, a perfect match to Manabilang, oddly enough. Noki, Junmar, and Jason were hilarious as well, playing their own odd assignments in their final act.
Oberon (Giovanni Tampus) and Titania (Farrah Alvie Ablanque) are king and queen of the enchanted forest. Both are played efficiently as lively, playful characters.  Karibang (Kenneth Sabijon) was quite the prince of mischief, being the right hand of Oberon and making a few mishaps along the way. It’s hard enough to laugh randomly and be subservient at the same time, and the character was very well portrayed. The servants of the king and queen proved very important in dividing the personality of both camps, and the actors have done them well.
The Stage
The play is performed in Xavier University’s Little Theater. The set is predominantly forest and mountain, as majority of the plot is set on an enchanted forest. The use of the Moon as central connector across all scenes is brilliant. The lights shift to different hues as the scene changes, which aids in telling the story better. The costumes were bright and colorful, and together with the props, it is indeed a visual treat.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream / Isa Ka Damgo still has two runs on September 27, 2013 (Friday) – Gala (7:30PM), and on September 28, 2013 (Saturday) – Gala (7:30PM). Tickets are at 75.00 at the XU Bookstore. Make your Friday or Saturday night worthwhile. Watch this play, and I guarantee you’ll go out with a big smile on your face, not to mention, some quotable quotes along the way.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream / Isa ka Damgo
The Xavier Stage
Directed by Hobart Savior
Adapted by Sining Kambayoka Ensemble
Running time 2 hours and 15 minutes
Xavier University Little Theater
September 21 to 28, 2013, 7:30 PM
Tickets at Php75.00
Keep posted on TsadaGyud as we bring you more art events in Cagayan de Oro, including the rest of the Realizing Shakespeare series which resumes on December.
All photos from The Xavier Stage facebook page.