‘Ang Hitman ni Sexy Ally’: A story of death and determination
INQUIRER.net / 08:15 PM July 25, 2013
LOS BAÑOS, Laguna—It was the first week of July when the academic community of the University of the Philippines Los Baños communed under the intimate theatre of NCAS Auditorium to witness on stage the struggles of a graduating Vet Med student who succumbed to death after battling acute myeloid leukemia. The story of Alyssa Asilo, who was named “Sexy Ally” in the play, forms a part of the total landscape of UPLB serving as a fertile source of inspiration among the Iskolar ng Bayan. As her ailment threatened to destroy her will to graduate, Alyssa’s determination was undoubtedly unparalleled as she exhausted all the energy left of her deteriorating body to finish her thesis. This type of determination that ran through her disease-stricken blood had moved the audience to nothing but to deepest sympathy and pride.
Layeta Bucoy’s dramatization of Alyssa’s story was a weaving of the fabrics of real events using the thread of dream. Sexy Ally ’s concern for her classmates, her phone conversation with her father, her difficult situation at PGH, her conversation with her professor, including her kind words about her Ate Cha were all dramatized with Hitman as the pivotal character in Allysa’s dream. Hitman, of course, was a personification of death. With his cunning appearance on stage, the audiences were made to believe that death was just dancing around Sexy Ally waiting for her to embrace.
Apparently, the narrative was not mathematical as it did not follow a linear progression of dramatic actions. It was illogical. It was dreamy. But unlike that of a dream when everything seems hazy, the narrative of the play was impressively clear even with a non cause–effect development. What was illogical and dreamy was made comprehensible and acceptable. The transformation of Hitman into different characters – mother, father, professor, doctor and even gays – was treated by the audience with much delight. It was this device – a character playing multiple roles – that gave enough space for dramatization of scenes even in a span of approximately one hour.
Elmer Rufo’s direction of “Ang Hitman ni Sexy Ally” was congenial to the dreamy texture of the play. The non-realist staging was not an eyesore, but a spectacle that abetted in understanding clearly the plot. Rufo’s use of three movable panels was imaginatively meaningful. The rearrangement of the panels suggested different meanings – death as everyone’s end and sudden changes in time and place. Hitman’s manipulation of the panels shaped and confined the movements of Ally. On a subtextual level, this meant that life was slowly becoming death. On another level, the rearrangement of the panels implied changes in location – from classroom to hospital to phone booth to open space to imaginary world. In a scene when Hitman was weaving through the panels, changes into characters were successfully achieved. In another scene when Sexy Ally positioned the panels in a vertical order center stage, the audiences were cued of her escape from dream and her return to reality.
One wonderful moment in the play was the shower of blood. It juxtaposed two bipolar meanings – the death of Ally in the real world and her triumph over Hitman in the imaginary world. The colorless appeal of the lights was apt as the play was all about a leukemia victim. However, the use of the lights at some points in the play was poorly timed. It did not harmonize with the blockings and movements of the performers. Consequently, it had affected the orchestration of the audiences’ emotional response. Instead of helping in making the audiences absorbed in the play, it distanced them making them see the minor flaws of the production.
Over all, “Ang Hitman ni Sexy Ally” staged at the intimate theatre of NCAS Auditorium through the initiative of the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs was remarkable, as it was not just about theater aesthetics. It was also about high quality of determination that hoped to inspire the Iskolar ng Bayan.