Let it be known that when a stage play features two men kissing and frolicking with each other in a room, then the production crew gets dappled reactions from audience who has varying degrees of exposure to homosexuality, which in a way speak volumes on how local society view gays. Oh, I know; I was there when “Berde: Hindi lang pula ang kulay ng pag-ibig (Green: Red is not the only color of love)” was set. Right in the middle (front) of the audience floor, I was stumped by the teasing catcalls, the scornful jeering, the happy clapping, and the sight of straight men beside me cursing and cringing at the greenness of it all.
Such were the reactions--the brazen abandonment of theater etiquette--solicited by Berde, a rollicking play that explores the overtly dramatic curves of the connections affected by the relationship between two men as well as their own relationship.
Directed by Loyd Sato, the same genius behind “Piring” and “Bus Terminal”, this provocative five-character ensemble, which could pass for a disturbing romantic comedy-tragedy, follows the unorthodox love affair of Edwin and Butch and how far they are willing to go to nurture the love they have for each other. It accented several issues revolving around gays--the origin of homosexuality, the overpowering passion of gays for their partners, the protectiveness of mothers bordering on obsession, the unreasonable neglect of fathers, how to properly raise children, and society’s “tolerance” for homosexuals.
Sato wrote and translated the play from the original material by National Artist Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero, “Clash of the Cymbals”. Homosexuality, with sexual overtures at certain intervals, and extreme family drama made for an inflammatory combo if these elements were presented in a play like Berde in the 1980s. Now, in this time, with almost each us going out with a gay friend and the laudable passage of Cebu’s anti-discrimination law, suffice it to say that Berde still delivered remarkable knockout punches to make the public conscious of what we are supposed to do--respect for another human being (whose true gender may not be properly/legally identified in his birth certificate for the rest of his life).
Dare I ask myself if I came to respect Edwin who, in the play, exploits his mother’s love, enrages his father to death, selfishly runs away with Butch, and practically screams at nearly every turn how the world is badly treating him because he is gay? I don’t think so. But I did come to respect him towards the end, his transformation from a self-centered brat to a man who finally liberated himself from all pains after he finally understood that while he is gay, he is still a son and a friend.
Despite very few obvious drawbacks in the production, such as the inconsistent length of blackouts in between scenes and, at very rare times, the understandably unnatural delivery of some Filipino lines by a Cebuano-speaking cast, the show holds the audience captivated through the estimable prowess of all the actors (bravo!). At the curtain call, I practically jumped and clapped giddily when Rachel Laya-og who played Charo Ocampo, the indulgent mother and submissive wife, was introduced. Such was her stellar and heart-wrenching performance of her role.
So, the next time you see gays, think about Berde where the stage is so green that straight guys cringe, and remember that Berde is just a pint of a bigger sphere and so much more is happening to homosexuals out there.
Berde: Hindi lang pula ang kulay ng pag-ibig
Written and directed by Loyd Sato. Presented through Focus Productions and Services at Marcelo B. Fernan Press Center in August 2012. Running Time: Approximately one hour. With Troy Tomarong and Jan Alfie Bartolome (Edwin Ocampo); Clint Solante (Butch Gavino); Rachel Laya-og, Andrea Patena, and Ansel Ancajas (Charo Ocampo); and Josh Eballe and Christopher Lingao (Arman Ocampo). All images provided for by Focus Productions and Services.
- Nancy -
P.S. If I’m not mistaken, I gather that Focus Productions’ next project is “Ang Paglilitis ni Mang Serapio”. I’m not sure of the English translation, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.