Games People Play (review)

Final scene: Diego’s chiseled chest is in full view, his pants pulled down, showing his boxers. Julio is kneeling in front of him, and behind Diego is Luna bending over.


It’s startling, that final scene of Games People Play, a theater production I thought would be a highbrow mindfuck piece of art. The ending was not as peaceful and innocent as the fairy tale beginning, but the last lines thrown by Luna, Diego, and Julio serve as a healing balm to the searing questions from one’s childhood.

How do you come to terms with your awkward memories of sensual child’s play? What’s that particular childhood memory you know you have but won’t let surface because of the shame beside it? How should you feel about the first time you understood–at age 11, 9, or 6–that you are not supposed to touch or be touched in certain body parts? How do you make amends with your difficult past? Now that you’re in a safe distance from your childhood, how are you?

Young Luna, Diego, and Julio find themselves pressing ahead with life despite first encounters with masturbation, blow job, intercourse and other habits outside the fence of the virtuous and the moral.


Should first encounters be bothersome? Even when you’re all grown up?

A lady and her gay friend seated behind me, and who were talkative before lights off, were sniffing during the climax of the play. Somebody standing near the stage (it was full house) was teary-eyed. Each character’s confusion, denial, and unhappiness moved us. There seemed to be an undercurrent of uneasiness and pensiveness in the Blackbox Theater, as we watched how certain circumstances push the three children to revise their view of the world. You know you’re watching a beautiful story if you see this kind of impact.

We usually leave discussions on sensuality/sexuality to Freud, psychoanalysis, anthropology and the rationality of sciences, often distrusting ourselves to understand what happened back there and how we can define it as part of ourselves. Thus, Art says ‘welcome’ when we find such topics open to discourse (or self-reflection) through films, installations, and theater.

Hours after the show, Mike and I were still talking about Games People Play.


The production draws its charm and drama from the powerful music and handcrafted design, down to the flicker of the lights and cardboard signs, as if childhood memories are dreams.

If there’s anything at all that brought force into the text, it is the acting. All three were a spectacle on their own: Thea Yrastorza seems to have really turned into a little girl (I particularly like that scene where her arm shoots up in the air, and she’s jumping, actually more like bouncing, just to be picked by a voice looking for a contestant in a game); Abner Delina shifts from a boy to a confused little red riding hood then to the religious mother of Luna (all these drew laughter from us); and Kalil Almonte remarkably plays Luna’s father and Diego imitating Luna’s father (let me stop here to avoid spoilers). The use of three actors to fill the rest of the characters in the story makes for an entertaining watch.

It’s like a game itself.

With plays such as this one, local theater needs to be promoted and supported more, probably more than foreign ones.


[box] Games People Play is a Palanca-winning play by Glenn Sevilla Mas, and is directed by Ed Lacson Jr. Show is extended: March 5 (Wed) AND March 6 (Thur), 7:30 PM. Fine Arts Blackbox Theater Ateneo de Manila University. For ticket inquiries, you may contact John Yap at 0917-722-5399[/box]



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