It’s been my third time (including the recent production) to watch the USA Little Theater’s version of Jonathan Rand’s one act play “Check, Please” and what I love about the show is that it renders a freshly take on the story that augments a hackneyed theme of teenybopper romance into a complicated and , well, slightly riotous terrain of dating.
Enter Girl and Guy: two individuals struck by Cupid’s arrow. Eventually, like a fading season, their relationship all went tepid until they decided to call it quits. Kind of.
Enter Kim and Jake: the assertive/supportive bestfriends of Girl and Guy whose scheme of “beat backing” the two into dating other girls and guys effectuated anagnorisis on both Girl and Guy – giving a chance on love, that is.
Enter the dates: from a faux polyglot to a klepto psychic, the trysts revealed their eccentric but rather amusing personalities that earned the ire of Girl and Guy to beckon the waiter “Chit gani!”
Indeed, dating is hard. But it is in its complexities that we eventually realize the true desires of our heart.
When I saw the poster of It’s A Date, the first thing that caught my attention was these two familiar faces too dapper for character roles. I had to look closely and confirm that it wasn’t just a promotional poster of a modelling event or something. And yes. It wasn’t. With names of Ron Matthews Espinosa and Khlea Mae Alibusa, the poster indeed was for a play, which I assumed a revival of Jonathan Rand’s Check Please. I’ve always admired the Little Theater’s innovation and risk in their production especially in investing non-actors to play certain roles specifically on this one, so I never doubted, considering the talents of the team, that they’d pull it off. I gave the play a chance.
I was too familiar with the story and I already expected the ambiance as I entered the USA Conference Room. LT members turned into waiters and a band playing swoon-worthy love songs. Even before the play started, the set design and the conference room had already set the mood, that the audience was in for a romantic ride.
I found it refreshing to see Xenia Sentina playing the role of Girl. Forgive my fanboying tendency, but as soon as she appeared onstage, I was truly mesmerized. The physical look, the wardrobe, the stance just silently heralded “I am Girl.” She was indeed Girl. However, I found her too idealized for such a role, that anyone who attempts to date her would be left in cold sweat. Honestly, I wouldn’t even want to date her. It’s a risk. LOL.
In contrast, Charles Jovero’s role as Guy exuded a heartthrob disposition, and apparently his boy-next-door countenance would leave the girls giggling. If the stage were a ramp, he could have successfully played his part. But along the course of the play, he kind of picked it up.
The remarkable thing about Xenia and Charles was natural acting. Although there were parts where gestures seemed forced and nuances rehearsed, otherwise, the manner of delivering their lines was forgivable. I commend how these two took the challenge and displayed their potential. The chemistry would have been more exuberant if they loosened themselves up. On the other hand, I quite understood how the characters struggle to move on after the break-up. I guess that added to a more believability in terms of acting. Subtle. And the songs played in between transitions supported the mood. The music has somehow become part of the narration and I loved it. But I loved it more when they used a live band especially during the previous production.
And then there’s Ron and Khlea. Not that I’m saying they’re the saving grace of the play, but seeing the two of them together broke the monotony of the scenes. They gave the contrast to the Girl and Guy’s dilemma of attempting to move on after the break up. Portraying multiple roles is a challenge for actors, and considering their experience in theatre proved that doing so is just a piece of cake.
I left the venue quite relieved. For a moment, the play was worth the catharsis. After all the pressure I felt complying with the requirements for clearance, no doubt, it saved me from insanity. The actors were breaths of fresh air. The story light to take in. Sir Eric was right. After all, it was “Sadya sadya lang.” And yes. I felt happy. Despite being date-less.