As a Filipina, I was more than usually curious to see how Pinoy: A ’merican Tale would depict Filipino culture. Presented by AWOL (A Way of Life) Productions and co-written by all the performers, the production revolves around Jose aka Jojo (Andrew Abbaggo), who is grappling with the recent death of his mother and his ongoing unemployment. The production flits intermittently between three dialogues: one between Jojo and a personification of his subconscious (Eamonn Foley), another between his sister Imelda (Mariel Bartolome) and an apparition of their dead mother Mary (Gowri Koneswaran), and another between their friend Diego (Don Michael Mendoza) and his therapist Doc (Steve Calamia).
Sitting in the dimly-lit, sparsely-filled Apothecary, I expected a more thorough exploration of mental illness than the production’s press release promised. All I got were the few tidbits Doc gives Diego as the latter comes to terms with his depression, and even then, I felt like I’d been doled out a lecture. The connection between the production’s two focal points, mental illness and Filipino culture, could have been woven tighter. The characters mentioned some aspects of Filipino culture, including the food and music, but I kept wanting them to go more in depth into how that fit into molding a Filipino identity.
While the Asian parables and folk tales were enchanting, there was definitely room for some of the more soft-spoken cast members to give more powerful, convincing performances.
Running time: 70 minutes.
Pinoy: A ’merican Tale information and tickets.