The Wheel and Axle

Funny Money

by on Dec.08, 2017, under Music & Theater, Society

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Tanghalang Pilipino closes out the year with the hilarious yet educational Christmas-themed play Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog, written by Eljay Castro Deldoc and directed by Abner Delina, Jr.

The title is a reference to money, with lukot-lukot referring to “crumpled” (paper bills, that is) and bilog-bilog referring to round (coins, to be exact). It is an interactive staging that seeks to provide some financial literacy to the audience while at the same time ensuring an enjoyable time for all. I went to the Press Night last weekend not knowing what to expect (especially since I just came from watching Matilda in Meralco Theater a couple of hours prior), and despite my preconceived notions about a “financial literacy comedy,” I came out very happy.

High school senior Gwyneth comes across some pre-Christmas money given to her by various godparents. Being part of a middle/lower-middle class family where her parents are struggling to make ends meet in their jobs, Gwyneth resolves to ease their burden by using the money to pay for her college entrance exams. And so one morning, she and her BFF Jing-Jing set off to submit their college applications, but along the way, Gwyneth encounters temptations that test her willpower when it comes to money.

Jing-Jing serves as her conscience, and so do a bunch of, well, shall we say, hallucinations (or is Lolo Sally’s wallet really magic?) – hallucinations in the form of characters, creatures, and personifications that come uproariously alive straight out of Filipino bills and coins. Through it all, and in between song numbers, sentimental moments, and priceless audience interactions, Gwyneth learns a lot of valuable lessons.

The truth is, the play’s concept and lessons can be pretty anvilicious, and if we’re being honest, it borders on being an extended PSA similar to those that they showed after G.I. Joe or Super Friends cartoons. You can predict where the story is going right almost at the onset (with the exception, perhaps, of Apolinario Mabini, Mt. Mayon, and three civet cats trying to dissuade our heroine from overspending).

With Antonette Go

However, what it lacks in terms of subtlety is more than made up for by the simple and sheer fun and joy of the production. You can tell everybody is having just such a grand old time, and it is infectious! Making it interactive with the audience adds to just a good time for all. And while the story direction may be predictable, the script and dialogue – both written and ad libbed – are just unpredictable and hilarious as heck.

The ensemble cast is amazing, and as I mentioned, everyone just seemed to be enjoying themselves. I almost cannot believe these are the same performers who did Ang Pag-Uusig just two months ago. That was such a powerful, dark, and emotionally-draining play that it’s pretty much the complete opposite of Lukot-Lukot.

It’s a testament to the talent of this company of actors that they could switch gears in so short a time and succeed. All were excellent, but a few stand out. JV Ibesate and Antonette Go, in particular, went from John Proctor and Abigail Williams to Tatay Egay and Nanay Blessie and made them all believable, disappearing into the different characters so seamlessly. Jonathan Tadiaon’s Lolo Sally also deserves high praise for his laugh-out-loud performance and witty ad libs. Eunice Pacia’s Jing-Jing is a riot and serves as a perfect foil to the lead.

With JV Ibesate

However, Blanche Buhia’s Gwyneth is the one to truly look out for. Hers is not an easy role – primarily because I believe she is literally onstage from start to finish with the exception of one quick change when she buys a new polka dotted dress. Doing this straight for about an hour and a half is quite the feat, considering she has to switch between various emotions, act like a believable teenager, and still be outrageously funny. She does it all fabulously.

Over-all, Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog may not immediately catch people’s fancy, and the PSA-like nature of the production may turn some people off. However, I urge folks to set aside their qualms about that and just roll with it. It only runs until December 17th, so go watch it as soon as you can. Bring the family. Yes, that includes the kids. Enjoy!



With Blanche Buhia



With Tanghalang Pilipino’s Marketing Team



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