On November 26, 2011, the restaging of the Russian play, “The Boor and the Proposal” was staged in the CAP Art Center. The play comprises two short acts.

The Boor:

Rhea Fantonial Bautista as Yelena – the widow.

Kristian Malintad as Luka – the servant.

Seth Bacalso as Grigory – the creditor.

This act starts with Yelena in deep mourning due to the death of her late husband. Her servant Luka tries to assuage her out of the 7-month-long mourning. But she endures and refuses to go out or accept any visitors. Enter gruff creditor Grigory. He asserts himself into the house despite Luka’s efforts in enforcing the lady’s no visitor directive. The creditor explains to Yelena that her late husband owed him a good sum of money. Unable to pay, a fierce argument ensues between the both of them, ultimately leading to a duel. Sometime between their argument and the duel, Grigory realizes that he has grown fond of the spirited woman. He backs out of the duel at the last moment and confesses his interest in her. Yelena desists at first, but eventually reciprocates. The act closes with Luka dumbfounded at the sight of his master and the creditor in their passionate exchange.

 

The Proposal:

Thomas Pua as Ivan Lomov – the suitor

Bata Reambonanza as Stepan Chubukov – the father

Penny Gavino Reambonanza as Natalya Chubukova – the daughter

The scene opens with Ivan and Stepan in the Chubukov’s household. Ivan expresses his intent to marry Stepan’s daughter, Natalya, and the father wildly approves. Stepan then hurries to get his daughter to hear the proposal, but as soon as she and the suitor are face to face, a squabble about land ownership results instead of a proposal. Ivan ends up leaving with heart palpitations. Natalya later on finds out from her father of Ivan’s intent, and in deep remorse, she cries out wishing for Ivan to return.

When Ivan returns, Natalya takes back what she asserted, expressing that he was right all along. She wanted to hear the proposal, but instead another petty argument starts between all three of them. At this point Ivan becomes unconscious, the Chubukovs go into hysterics, and Ivan wakes up with amnesia. Somehow through all this, Natalya says yes to the proposal. The act closes with Stepan raising a toast to the new couple as the two start another round of bickering.

Commentary:

You would think a set with scant traces of furniture (in plain white, nonetheless) would end up with an equally unimpressive show. But for those who’ve never seen the play before, they were proven wrong! As soon as it started, the audience was instantly taken by the performance. I particularly enjoyed how Yelena was portrayed by Rhea Bautista. She was supposed to be in mourning, but everyone laughed on how volatile she was thinking about her husband. One moment she was solemn, the next she would let out a guttural cackle, nagging the picture of her late husband. Kristian Malintad, as the manservant Luka, did an impressive job depicting despair over the plight that befell their household. He was a key element in balancing out the feral nature of the boor creditor played by Seth Bacalso. Grigory, a slovenly brutish character, was somehow the ‘hero’ to the damsel ‘in distress.’ How you ask? Without this gruff man, Yelena would still be knee-deep in tears for an unfaithful dead husband. It was plain to see how the passion and powerplay between Yelena and Grigory was an instant hit with the audience.

For the second act, it was a recipe for disaster when this nervous man set foot in the household of his rowdy neighbors. Thomas Pua portrayed Ivan as prim and proper with a touch of hypochondria very well. Natalya, played by Penny Reambonanza, was quite the sassy lady. She had a peculiar inflection in her voice that really lit up the stage. Last but not least, starring Bata Reambonanza as Natalya’s father Stepan. He clearly had an impeccable connection with the crowd. When he laughed, the crowd laughed along as heartily as he did!

All in all I feel though the play was portrayed by just 6 people and the set seemed but a humble backdrop, the overall performance under the direction of Niel Kintanar was very impressive! I highly recommend the Boor and the Proposal to all who’ve not seen the Cebu Chapter of Little Boy Production’s rendition of it.

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