Ateneo ENTABLADO’s (ENTA) Ang Dapat Nating Hindiang Pagbabalik ng mga Arturo Uy (Arturo Uy) is an adaptation by Patricia Lucido and Jerome Ignacio of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui written by Bertolt Brecht, a play that uses allegory to depict Adolf Hitler’s rise to power before World War II. Similarly, ENTA’s adaptation references to Brecht’s storytelling of Hitler, but takes care to illustrate that the same devices take part in our country’s local power play.
Arturo Uy successfully contextualizes the themes present in the original work to the local contemporary scene, owing this achievement to Ignacio and Lucido’s subtle and clever writing. It tries to show that while corruption, blackmail, and bribery still take place in current society, there is no need for us to be blind to these invisible hands that attempt to control our freedom because we’ve already seen them in the past. However, unlike the past, today, it is up to us to decide if we will take action against these injustices.
The play begins with gangster Arturo Uy, played by James Andrew Reysio-Cruz, controlling Kingpin City, causing its inhabitants to live in constant unrest and poverty. Pablo de Asusena (played by Miguel Agcaoili), torchbearer of Partido Progresista, takes the responsibility of usurping Uy from his throne, promising the citizens that he’s there to help.
Asusena, the perceived “hero,” doesn’t get to laugh last, however; Uy thinks up different schemes to put Asusena out of power and entangles the two of them in a complex power struggle. Regardless, whoever holds power never seems to mind the plight of Kingpin City’s citizens.
Good comedic plays that carry a heavy tone alongside it are hard to come by, but Arturo Uy was able to pull it off with Ignacio and Lucido’s writing, Ignacio’s direction and timing, and the actors superb performance. Koleen Chua Yap as Krissy and Agcaoili as Asusena were great sources of amusement and were very memorable.
More interestingly, despite how well they pulled off the humor, Arturo Uy never failed to remind us of the depth of the topic they were tackling. The switch between the comedic and serious scenes were possible because of the lights by Ana Chavez, sounds by Maynard Kenneth de Guzman and Sean Angelo Ilagan, and the actors settling well into these respective scenes. Ethan D. Reyes gave a convincing, dark performance as the Turo-Turo gang member Roma and gave me chills, while Gwynith Gayle “Gigi” M. Matubis as Ginebra was an amazing embodiment of Temptation and felt impressively threatening.
Besides these things, Arturo Uy also performed songs; while were good explanations of the events that transpired throughout the play, the choreography wasn’t performed at the same time by the actors and became distracting.
Overall, despite a few bumps on the road, the play was able to deliver its message well, thanks to Ignacio’s superb direction. The beginning of the play introduces us to the usual dichotomy: good versus evil, embodied by Asusena and Uy. It goes on to show, however, that the reality isn’t as simple as that; politicians, corporations, gangs, or any other group that desires power, might serve their own interests and in the end, become the same.
It then becomes clear that the ones who can fight for the people – must fight for the people, lest they be under the mercy of uninterested powers – are the people themselves.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article mistakenly claimed that this production was a musical, that Roma was the leader of the Turo-Turo Gang, and misspelled Matubis’ name. These have since been corrected.