REPERTORY Philippines ended its 62nd theatrical season with the impressive staging of Accomplice.

The play, directed by Miguel Faustmann, is a two-act comic thriller written by Rupert Holmes. It ran earlier this month at the Carlos P. Romulo Theatre of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation Plaza (RCBC) in Makati.

Act One opens with “Derek Taylor” (Jeremy Domingo) entering his classic English-residence during a stormy day. The artistic display of wines on a moving giant clock-like design on the elevated center of the house shows his passion for drinking.

Janet (Liesl Batucan), Derek’s wife, appears next and the audience gets to know of their unhappy marriage. Janet hates Derek’s “pendulum-like” lifestyle. Annoyed by their inactive sex life, the greedy Janet plots to murder her husband by poisoning him.

She performs her plan before Derek’s meeting with his business partner. In anticipation of the business meeting, Derek drinks his wine with poison and immediately succumbs to death, while Janet pretends to be hysterical.

Everything seems real until the scene turns out to be a rehearsal of the actual murder plot. John (Jeremy Domingo), Derek’s business partner, played “Derek” in the rehearsal.

The true Derek (Meynard Peñalosa) enters the house with a surprise, telling Janet that he plans to moderate his drinking habits for health reasons.

In a desperate attempt to kill her husband, Janet makes another plan after the glass of drink with poison slips Derek’s hand as she pretends pampering Derek with his favorite footbath on a cold evening.

Janet, for some unknown reason, reveals the murder plot to her husband, which she claims to be a joke. But suddenly, Janet slams a hair-dryer on the footbath basin to Derek’s surprise, causing his slow and painful electrocution.

Paraiso ng isang nilalang

Janet immediately hides all traces of the crime in time for the arrival of John with his wife Melinda (Ana Abad Santos-Bitong) for a business meeting. Pretending not to have any knowledge of the things that had happened, John attempts to save Derek, takes him to the hospital while Melinda stays with Janet. The act closes with a hint of the convoluted plot: Janet kisses Melinda and gives a sly wicked smile.

Act Two opens with John paying a quick but unexpected visit to the not-so-grieving widow. Janet comes down from the master’s bedroom and settles on the sofa bed. Melinda comes next and approaches Janet.

The play seems to have had enough revelations already and a breast exposure is too much. This happens in the scene where Janet asks Melinda to remove her coat and brassiere and sits beside her. Melinda complains and asks why she has to bare her breasts.

The director (Meynard Penalosa), coming from nowhere, impatiently shows up and scolds Melinda, repeating his instruction of an uninterrupted rehearsal¾ part of the installment of revelations.

The play is actually about a rehearsal for the play “Accomplice”, which is a play within a play within a play. The discussion among the cast about the script and their acting led the audience to stories with equally the same twists and surprises. At the latter part, the story becomes clearer then more confusing again. The audiences are caught off-guard when they find themselves not merely spectators but participants in the story as well.

The complications in the plot make the audience glued to their seats. Humor plays a big part in lightening up the twisted and heavy story.

Ustetika, Harry Potter, at si Nida

The play is actually about how a director and three actors of Repertory Philippines plot to kill an understudy, Paul del Gatto, during the staging of the play “Accomplice”, as a revenge for the latter’s killing of the director’s sister, Crystal Garcia. To make the story realistic, the actors and director used their real names in the play except for Domingo, who plays del Gatto.

The play is intriguingly realistic and effective that the audience are almost deceived, as if they were actually witnessing a murder right before their eyes. It could have been more scaringly convincing if the security staff of the play took part in the story.

The intricate plot is complemented by fabulous acting. The actors have internalized their roles well, especially Jeffrey who plays the roles of John and del Gatto. His moves and dialogues are carefully practiced and perfectly performed.

The two-story English house with its giant clock-style wine container at the elevated center and a fireplace on one side is admirable. The gun and knife decorations prefigure the murder about to take place. The lighting and sound effects are believable especially in the scene where Derek is electrocuted.

Accomplice is indeed a mix of uncommon theatrical style, meticulously unpredictable plot, highly-commendable actors, and fantastic effects that is very funny, entertaining, and suspenseful.


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