|Maxwel S. Corpuz & Becca Godinez|
By Joe Straw
I few years ago, my young daughters and I were watching a Lakers game. There was a small earthquake, really a moderate one, and the ground shook for longer than I would have liked. Watching Kobe in the shoot around, I noticed that he took little notice as the Staple Center rattled. And for most Southern California residents, these events are just observed and ignored.
But, for me and my imagination, things play out a little differently. I imagine this as the first seismic wave in an upcoming series of waves. I need an escape route and need to get away from the bookshelves so that A. L. Rowse’s “The Annotated Shakespeare” does not crush me.
Suddenly there was the emergency alert warning flashing across the screen indicating a tsunami was on the way. This does not happen. With two small girls under my care, my radar went way up. Higher ground was the first order of business.
So to higher ground, I went. Next door (about two inches higher), I pounded on Tony’s door, (He is the neighborhood co-captain watch guy.), and roused him from his couch and the Laker game. I told him there was an alert on TV that a tsunami was on the way. He, originally, from the Philippines, said in his beautiful Filipino accent “I did not hear such a thing. I will make some calls to the police and let you know what I find.”
I went back home somewhat relieved but still planning an escape route and waited for the forty-foot wall of water to come.
“They said they did not know anything about it.” Tony said. “I guess we’re okay.” He laughed three short bursts. “Kobe is playing good. I’ll get back to my game now.”
PAE Live! and The Latino Theater Company present Flipzoids by Ralph B. Peña and directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera is a fantastic odyssey of three Filipino lives connected in a magical, and often mysterious ways. Like island waves, this is a show that sweeps you away into another life, and into another culture.
One can’t help being swept away when entering the theatre. The sounds of breaking waves bring you in to the cool theatre and immediately the magnificent and beautiful Scenic Design by John Binkley strikes you. The sand is the lower level, followed by a pier or small house on the beach and upstairs is a men’s room completely covered with graffiti and a hole in the wall.
It is here that three lonely souls, in a 1985 Southern California beach setting, find a meaning to their present-day life. They are as different as humanly imaginable. Their only means of existence is to make it though the day the best way they can and come out smiling in the end without too much heartache.
Aying (Becca Godinez) sits in the sand slowly gliding her hand across the soft surface of water in a water sculpture. She contemplates the meaning of her life, the next step of her known life coming to an end. There is something wrong with her thoughts, and like the waves on the beach, each time the waves recede they take one more memory away from her.
Meanwhile Evangelina (Ellen D. Williams), Aying’s daughter, is plugged into her MP3 player and repeating complicated English words. She is fluent in the English language but she is trying to grow as a person.
Evangelina has traveled from the Philippines and has come to work as a nurse in Orange County. Her mother, getting older, has followed to live with her daughter. She is not keen on the idea but knows it must be so.
“My daughter, I think she is going to hell.” - Aying
Upstairs is Redford (Maxwell S. Corpuz) sitting in a men’s room at the beach and trying to connect with any man who comes into the next stall. He is gay and gothic, spiked bleach blond hair, and heavily made up. Oddly enough he is not there for the sex. He wants to find a kindred soul to explore the complexities of the human race. (Probably not a good place to do this.)
“Mothballs. That is what old people smell like.” - Aying
Redford spies Aying on the beach and tries to communicate with her.
“You there, in the period costume.” – Redford
Aying hides under her umbrella, moves over to her water sculpture, and floats her hand across the edge of the water in the hopes this odd young man will leave her alone. And just as Redford is about to leave she says, howdy. She explains that she is touching her home.
“Charming.” – Redford
Aying asks for Redford’s hand. She looks at it, tells him to close his eyes, places his hand in the water while she describes a small town, the bread market, next to the bus, where the people eat mangoes, near small rivers, when the rains come, the rivers come out.
“Do you see?” – Aying
“Yes.” – Redford.
“Never forget. I need to go to the bathroom.” - Aying
Redford, knowing the conditions of the stalls, tells her that she can’t go to the bathroom. Aying finds a corner of the sand, hoists her dress, uses the beach, and covers her water with sand like a compliant cat.
Seeing a need for introductions, Redford introduces himself. Aying says her name is Rosario. Aying eyes Redford and mentions that Redford doesn’t look Filipino.
And in their intercourse, with a softness overcoming his emotions, Redford hugs Aying. Aying screams and calls him a rapist moving as far away as humanly possible. Redford is puzzled by her actions.
Something comes to light and Aying corrects herself.
“You can call me Aying.” – Aying
And then Aying orders Redford to leave dismissing him with a wave of her hand. Not getting her at all Redford goes back to his bathroom stall.
Moments later, Eva checks up on Aying. Aying wants to go back to the Philippines but Eva doesn’t want to play that game. Eva works hard to provide for them and knows that Aying is losing her mind and, to that end, cannot help her. She tunes out and goes back to her MP3 player.
Ralph B. Peña, the writer, has written a magnificent play where the words lead each character to their splendid and specific objective. The three actors in this extended one act play are truly marvelous. And, in the end, you take those moments and leave the theatre knowing that life is an experience, that you should take notes, and remember those moments that make a difference to the heart.
|L to R - Ellen D. Williams, Becca Godinez, Maxwel S. Corpuz|
Ellen D. Williams as Eva uses her words to increase her vocabulary. They are for her and her only. When spoken out loud, they are not used for a call to action, not to communicate, but in a singular objective to help her as she navigates being a nurse. She knows there will come a time where she will use those words for those who have the ability to recover. And she also knows that her mother is not one of those people. So she tries to make her mother’s life as comfortable as possible without trying to totally ignore her. Williams captures the spirit of Eva wonderfully.
Maxwel S. Corpuz as Redford uses his words to the point that he is overly expressive. He envelops the other character with exuberant language as though he were smothering them. But this expressive stream of consciousness, used to get him closer, sometimes gets him in a lot of trouble, to no fault of his own. Corpuz is wonderful as Redford and brilliant in the execution of his craft. The simplicity of tying the knots on a string to relieve his anxiety is explained wonderfully.
Becca Godinez as Aying, is reaching the end point of her life, has trouble with finding the words, and even remembering them. Try as she might, she hold onto memories until they are not available any longer. The early signs are there. She asks for the time frequently and cannot remember her own name. She wants to go home to the Philippines because those are the memories that are ingrained into her being, but even those memories are slowly moving away. Godinez finds the humor in this role and uses it to her utmost. She is delightful in so many ways and gives a grand life to this character.
Jon Lawrence Rivera, the director, does a marvelous job. His vision is simple, his characters complex and lyrical. It is a magical play about a journey home with no one having a solution to get there. Or maybe they are home, they just don’t know it. In any case, Rivera brings to life a wonderful play that will lift your spirits and swathe your life in the color of blue, the color of the sea, of those days when you think life could not get any better and you take joy in the unexpected and exquisite beauty of the moment.
Bob Blackburn did a wonderful job as the Sound Designer.
Gerry Gregory Lisangan, the Lighting Designer, provided a mysterious marine layer over the set.
Mylette Nora, the Costume Designer, did a wonderful job. Alan del Rosario did the costuming for Becca Godinez. (It’s wonderful, when an actor can have that.)
Joe McCormac Estrella was the Stage Manager.
I saw Ted Benito, The Producer, outside the theatre nervous as a cat. His work is exceptional and he takes great pride in putting up very fine productions in Los Angeles. This was just marvelous work. And the execution to details is second to none.
Run! Take a friend that hears the sound of the waves as a call to come home.
Online ticketing: www.thelatc.org
Through October 28, 2012