In Shakespeare's time, verse and music were commonly employed in plays, lighting and set pieces were largely absent, and the charisma of the players and skill of the director were paramount. The same attributes characterize this production of Lonnie Carter's play about a love-struck Filipino migrant worker named Magno Rubio, even though the setting is 1930s California. Rubio (a terrifically earnest JonJon Briones) inhabits a labor camp with his fellow Manongs Prudencio (a vocally gifted Antoine Diel), Atoy (a boyishly charming Eymard Cabling), Claro (Erick Esteban) and Nick (Giovanni Ortega). Because Rubio barely knows English, the more educated Nick helps him write letters to Clarabelle (Elizabeth Rainey), a devious, gold-digging Arkansas woman for whom Rubio falls after seeing her picture in a lonely-hearts newspaper ad. Rubio's story —' and, really, that of so many migrants —' is told with a captivating honesty, as scenes seamlessly glide from one to the next courtesy of director Bernardo Bernardo's impeccable timing. Guitarist Vincent Reyes and choreographer Peter de Guzman help bring out the piece's theatricality by incorporating Kundiman (traditional Filipino love songs) and eskrima (martial arts using rattan sticks). Rani de Leon and Gerry Linsangan conjure an authentic storm with their respective sound and lighting. The entire ensemble is fantastic, their movements crisp and energetic, their expressions full of vivacity and their vocals beautifully harmonic. The show, at its core, has the bawdy, wonderful, put-it-all-out-there-ness of a well-done Shakespeare play. [Inside] the Ford, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hlywd.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m. (English); Sat., 3 p.m. & 8 p.m. (Tagalog); Sun., 3 p.m. (English); dark Nov. 24; through Dec. 11. (323) 461-3673, FordTheatres.org.
Thursdays, Fridays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 & 8 p.m. Starts: Nov. 4. Continues through Dec. 11, 2011
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