Watching the play Eks (X) staged by the students of the Pamatasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila(PLM) is like watching an indie film.
PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) was able to watch the September 20 performance of this Magwayen Creative Scholars' Guild production at the PLM campus in Intramuros.
From the moment the curtains go up until the cast members take their final bow, the influence of independent films can be felt strongly throughout the 10-part play.
First, the blackouts appearing in between segments of the play simulate the cut to black often used in indie films. Second, this Magwayen production will make the viewer think and keep track of the connections tying all the segments together. Lastly, the storytelling of the play is non-linear, much like most independent films today.
The title Eks (X) comes from the Roman numeral "X" that stands for 10, the number of segments of this play. The "X" can also stand for a cross sign that indicates forbidden acts such as rape, murder, and drug trafficking—all elements of this mature production. Or it can also stand for X-factor, something that the Magwayen cast members had an abundance of during the play.
In the world of Eks (X), lives are ruined—and saved—by the game of politics. Scriptwriter Marlon Miguel takes the audience from the powerful halls of Malacañang to the guilt-ridden walls of the Bilibid prison to the chaotic slums of Manila.
The central character of the play is Tisoy (Joseph Molino), the hapless death convict whose life is being used as leverage by wily politicians and taken advantage of by an ambitious movie director. Joaquin Salgado is unable to finish his term as President of the Republic.
The First Lady, Veronica (Giselle Diane Diaz), takes matters into her own hands and pulls some strings to get herself reelected to power. Tisoy's girlfriend uses her own connections and family ties to save her loved one from the electric chair.
The manipulative First Lady is played to the hilt by Giselle, a young woman whose acting skills stand out from the rest of the cast. She's a character you'd love to hate for her shrewdness and cunning.
Alyssa Paula Tomas makes her own mark as the dutiful girlfriend and you can't help but feel embarrassed for her when she professes her love for Tisoy. Unfortunately, Joseph Molino looked expressionless while Alyssa confessed her secret crush on him.
In less than ten minutes, Michael Cayetano managed to give an intense performance as Leo, an actor-playing-an-actor within the play. Too bad he didn't have a much larger role in Eks (X).
The lighting of the play is quite poor, making it difficult to make out the facial expressions of the actors. In one scene wherein one character fires a gun at a syndicate member, the gun is fired but no sound effect is used, and the explosive moment is wasted.
Eks (X) is a finely written play that will make viewers ponder the role of politics in their lives.