THE CAMPUS was abuzz over Bola ni Totoy, the latest play-cum-variety show by Mediartrix, staged at the Albertus Magnus Auditorium last September 22 and 23. But did the show deliver?

Directed by Khristofferson Yusi and Gladys Pagdato, and written by Cherry Mae Poblete, Bola tackled the consequences of bad decision-making by blunder-prone college guy Amber.

In the story, he finds a talking Magic 8 Ball which can make all the hard choices for him. In time, his dependence on the ball leads him to Alexa, his would-be college sweetheart, but this comes not without consequences. Ambert will discover the dark side of letting others choose for him.

The play’s saving grace was probably its humor, partly due to the odd characters, from the ostentatiously obese socialite Fatty, to Pillow, a closet homosexual flirting with his male buddies.

Mediartrix alumnus Mark Francisco gave the most impressive performance as Macky, a hot-headed, rich Chinese teenager and Alexa’s former lover. His Filipino-Chinese accent, combined with his flawless execution of peculiar mannerisms, made him stand out. He also provided most of the humor.

Mary Joy was an equally amusing character played by Inah Mercado whose representation of undying mirth kept the audience to their seats.

Although his acting was average, Gilbert Arcilla still proved himself effective in the lead role by providing convincing improvisations whenever the scene called for them.

The integration of live and recorded tunes showed the organization’s innovation when it came to music, not to mention the smooth changing of lights to provide transition of scenes.

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However, the production exaggerated on amplifying the jovial feel of the story with an oversaturation of dances and song, burying the story in the process. At times the production numbers seemed to be forced, a hard bump on the otherwise smooth flow of the play.

The organization’s need to utilize all their members was understandable but this made the stage look very crowded, making it hard to focus on key aspects of the production. The excessive use of the smoke machines obscured the view of the audience.

In terms of story, the conflict was relatively simple, with the resolution made obvious right from the start. Rather than juicing the plot to produce an hour’s worth of story, the directors could have gone for something more straight to the point, devoid of diversions or needless story fragments.

Nonetheless, the audio-visual presentations served as valuable transitional devices and intervals for preparing the stage for the next scene. While some videos seem awkwardly placed, the cinematography and skillful editing applied made up for the shortcomings.

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