Wa Etching! | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Wa Etching! 

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WA ETCHING! Pintig Cultural Group, at the Athenaeum Theatre. The producers hope this show will give a voice to closeted gay Filipinos and "celebrate" those who are open. The director hopes the show will break down barriers between straights and gays, "the caucasian gay and lesbian community and the minority gay and lesbian community." The playwright hopes to make his audience "more understanding of and sympathetic to gay people." Noble aspirations, but before Pintig sets out to change the world perhaps it should tackle a simpler and more necessary challenge: putting together a coherent piece of theater.

While Wa Etching! ("nothing but the truth" in Tagalog gay slang) is a notable improvement over Pintig's Scenes From an Unfinished Country 1905/1995, the company is still struggling to rise above the level of community theater. Director Allan A. Sargan has assembled two and a half hours of awkward pauses, unfinished gestures, and sluggish cues, with scene changes so long and clumsy they seem never to have been rehearsed. Playwright Jaime Almonte confuses good intentions with drama: his trio of gay Filipino-American men wear their pop-psychology hearts on their sleeves while struggling with their ethnic and sexual identities. Despite a few winning performances, the characters remain one-dimensional. In the end, the play suggests that gay Filipinos are oversexed, underloved, and pathologically attached to their mothers--not a message likely to break down any barriers soon.

--Justin Hayford


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