WHAT are your plans before turning thirty?

Teatro Tomasino’s Last Order sa Penguin, written by Palanca awardee Chris Martinez, explores the crisis of early adulthood— growing old and loveless. Directed by the comedian John Lapus, it was on stage from March 4 to 8 at the St. Albertus Magnus Auditorium.

Penguin, a bar in Malate, is the haven of five friends who come together to talk about their aspirations and update each other about their lives.

Artista 1 is played by variety show ASAP director Eric Salud. He portrays a 29-year-old gay who wants nothing else but to be loved back by Tom, the object of his affection who doesn’t even care to reply to the desperate text messages he sends to him.

The play starts with Artista 1 arriving at Penguin, in a happy mood while keying a text message to Tom asking where he is, what he’s doing, and adding a “smiling face” icon at the end. He then calls each of his friends asking where they are. From that spot, each of his friends drop one by one and then tell their stories.

Artista 2 (Janet Abdon) arrives having a burden because she and her live-in partner for four years, Artista 6, just had a fight. Artista 3 (Janice Medina) begins to question her identity, having relationships with a male, and then female, and then male again. Meanwhile, Artista 5 (Roy San Luis) has turned into a big time drug pusher and has been dating a single mother. Artista 4 (Aleli “Mosang” Baguio) is having a relationship with a 16-year-old boy who is a hip-hop wannabe.

The attempt at a stand-up comedy in this play was not convincing, especially with the forced English accent of the characters and punch lines that fell flat. However, Artista 4, played by the comedian “Mosang,” made the audience laugh out loud with her ad-lib lines. Her experience as a theater and TV personality showed with the way she delivered her lines and the chemistry she had with other people onstage. No other character appeared to have portrayed his or her role well. Artista 2 for example didn’t act like a nagger because of her soft voice. She was forced to yell most of the time. Artista 5, who was supposed to be a wasted drug pusher, looked and acted like a professional with an office job.

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The delusions and what-ifs of the characters were brought to life by the Architecture Dance Troupe. Artista 1’s plans on what to do given a chance to have an instant P1 million were presented by dancers in white suits representing his dream of being a doctor and helping the oppressed.

The background music was mostly composed of upbeat tracks and were suited to the nightlife ambience of the stage. Lighting was lively and good except for the occasional spotlights that do not hit the supposed center of attention.

As the play was about to end, a total switch on the theme was made. An attempt to show social significance was exhibited by the conversation of Artista 1 and a flower vendor where they compare their problems. While Artista 1’s were trivial, the flower vendor’s is a matter of life and death.

Truly, it is not only a romantic partner that makes a human being complete and fulfilled. Worrying about growing old and being loveless doesn’t make sense at all when the world around you is filled with more important problems to think about. However, Last Order sa Penguin’s effort to show this failed. Jhervy C. Nuez

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