Floy Quintos should adapt his play into weekly TV drama-comedy

The Reconciliation Dinner is a play about us, but not quite about us

Frances Makil-Ignacio and Jojo Cayabyab as the pro-Pink couple. (Photo by Jaypee Maristaza)

Randy Medel Villarama and Stella Canete-Mendoza as the pro-Red couple. (Photo by Jaypee Maristaza)

Playwright Floy Quintos doesn’t need to insert sex scenes to make his political satire appeal to a wider audience. His newest and restaged play, The Reconciliation Dinner, is a mirthful satire on Pinoys who survived the past two presidential elections. It should thus resonate with anyone who goes to see it.

The past political events were polarizing, and they reportedly resulted in feuds and broken friendships. Representing us in the play are two families, each of them staunch supporters of the two leading presidential candidates. Predictably, the old friendship is put on hold. The sore losers couldn’t move on, while the winners couldn’t help but be so full of themselves.

After a while, the lady of the house that voted for the winning candidate deems it time to reunite with their old friends and let bygones be bygones. She hosts a dinner, and the reunion starts off well. But the feeling of goodwill couldn’t last.

The plot is as basic as it can get, but Quintos embellishes it with such colorful characters, with traits that ought to be familiar to audiences. In fact, they’re so familiar they seem somewhat stereotyped. The family that supported the elected president is of the upper middle-class bracket, but the head is trigger-happy, homophobic, and pathetic in his English grammar. The head of the other family is a staunch crusader of the loser. He’s an idealist who believes in marching to Edsa at the drop of a hat. Yep, he’s supposed to be the good guy.

It’s the wives who offset the obsession of their husbands. The play is at its best when the two homemakers do their separate monologues. All the hypocrisy on both sides is hilariously uncovered. It gets even funnier when the two couples start warring on social media.

The play merely repeats most of the political rants that were posted on social media. Thus, it could sometimes be a chore to have to sit through it again in a theater. At times it sounds like propaganda, but I do understand the message Quintos wants to impart: Accept defeat but remain vigilant.

He presents a showcase of our worst traits and best ones, and makes us laugh at ourselves

If I may borrow from the title of Jun Lana’s recent film, The Reconciliation Dinner may be about us, but it’s not really about all of us. In my reality, relatives and friends supported opposing candidates but remained civil and respectful to each other. Elections couldn’t spark tensions within the clan, but issues involving money can. If any political bickering happens, sharing the latest gossip regarding a philandering cousin would easily restore peace.

There is a lot to like in The Reconciliation Dinner. Quintos is a master of capturing the Filipino psyche. He presents a showcase of our worst traits and best ones, and makes us laugh at ourselves.

Another chief asset of the play is the brilliant cast led by Stella Cañete-Mendoza and Frances Makil-Ignacio, who play the two estranged friends. I think The Reconciliation Dinner would also have worked, had it been just a two-character play starring these two ladies. As their spouses, Randy Medel Villarama and Jojo Cayabyab are equally talented, and they’re professional enough to let their leading ladies take the spotlight. Ditto with the actors playing their kids, Nelsito Gomez, Mica Pineda, and Phi Palmos, though Palmos almost steals the show as the son who likes to look pretty in pink. Nelsito Gomez is such a strong stage presence, and makes his one big scene count.

The dinner in full swing: Frances Makil Ignacio, Jojo Cayabyab, Stella Canete-Mendoza, Randy Medel Villarama, Mica Pineda, Nelsito Gomez, and Phi Palmos. (Photo by Jaypee Maristaza)

The sad thing about this play is the curtain call, because it means we won’t be seeing the antics of these two families anymore. Perhaps Quintos should adapt his play into a weekly TV comedy-drama featuring the same cast and director (Dexter M. Santos). They just might revolutionize Philippine television.

Originally staged last year, this revival of The Reconciliation Dinner continues its run at the PMCS Blackbox Theater in Circuit Makati on May 20 to 21 and May 27 to 28 at 3 pm and 8 pm.

About author


He is a freelance writer of lifestyle and entertainment, after having worked in Philippine broadsheets and magazines.

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