The current state of Philippine politics is in limbo. Outrageous statements are dropped like bombs, suspicious alliances are formed, and shady dealings are brought into the light. How do we react to it? We answer with laughter, the same way we respond to things that are out of our control. PETA’s Charot takes advantage of this quirk by turning it into a musical and it is entertaining.
The Philippine Educational Theater Association‘s Charot is set in the Philippines in 2020, when its citizens must make an important choice: are they pro- or anti-Charot? Simply put, Charot is the Charter of Togetherness, a thinly-veiled criticism of the proposed Charter Change. The controversial reform contains amendments on the freedoms of expression, ownership, and most especially, federalism.
It can be tough to discuss such a heavy topic but the burden becomes easier when it is presented as a gag. And that’s the genius of calling the charter and the musical Charot. The word is a colloquial term meaning “just kidding.” By turning statements into a joke, it is used to downplay an otherwise scathing statement to mere jest.
The characters meet on their way to their precincts to make their votes, and they begin a dialogue to discuss its pros and cons. There’s Jack Yabut as Papsy, the tough-talking president of the Philippines; Gardo Vicente as a millennial vlogger; CJ Navato as her cynical boyfriend; Meann Espinosa as Tita Mary Grace, a rich and haughty woman (she also plays Sister Joy and the reporter Karen De Villa); Kitsi Pagaspas as a pregnant storeowner; Jason Barcial as a traffic enforcer; Lemuel Silvestre as a gay former-OFW Grab driver; Gold Villar-Lim as a nurse; Rhapsody Garza as a mall saleslady; and Norbs Portales as a street vendor.
It’s difficult to stand out as an actor with such a large cast but they don’t need to since they work best as an ensemble. They’re a mixed bag of people from different socio-economic backgrounds, which offers different perspectives. And they each get their moment to shine with their antics and quips. And trust me, they were funny.
The songs were pretty catchy and memorable, and it’s not surprising that the cast was able to deliver them in an electrifying way.
Another thing I enjoyed about PETA‘s Charot is how they made the show interactive. Like Black Mirror‘s “Bandersnatch,” the audience can choose how the story will go by joining an online poll. There are only a few times when you get to pick the direction, which I like because I got tired after watching the Netflix special. Wi-fi is provided in the theater and ushers are equipped with smartphones for those who want to cast their votes. Near the end of the show, they also haned out flyers that detail the actual amendments of federalism.
Charot is the perfect opportunity to learn about the proposed charter change and the things that are happening in the Philippines. But it’s also a great release because of its humor and catchy soundtrack. We think we’re laughing because we don’t have a choice in politics. But the last laugh is on us because we do. Oh boy, we do.
This story is in partnership with PETA. PETA’s Charot runs from February 8 to March 17, 2019 at the PETA Theater Center, located at No. 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City. For inquiries and ticket reservations, contact PETA Marketing and Public Relations Office at Tel. No. 725-6244, TicketWorld at 891-9999 or their website, or Ticket2Me at 721-0431 to 33 loc. 8109 or their website.