"Bloodletting," directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera, may be filled with foreign fantasy and folklore, but, at its core, it tells a very real and familiar story of the power of the interpersonal connections we share with one another.
"Bloodletting" follows two siblings, Farrah (Myra Cris Oceanar) and Bosley Legaspi (Boni B. Alverez), on their journey to bury their father's ashes in the Philippines. The rain prevents them from making it to their hotel, so they take shelter in the Princess Cafe. Over the course of their short stay, Farrah and Bosley learn to deal with the demons of their past and present, both metaphorically and physically. Farrah learns that she is an 'aswang,' a shapeshifting monster of Filipino folklore, and has to deal with her new powers as well as her emotions. Her new powers reveal a lot about the relationship between the Legaspi siblings and their individual ties to their father.
Ocenar does an incredible job of juggling her many feelings, be they new or long repressed. Her sharp tongue and anger plays well against Alverez's comedic meekness and complaining. Alverez both wrote and starred in the play, and provides fantastic comedic relief throughout the production. He also brings a lot of heart to the show, and his chemistry with Ocenar helps make the audience really want these siblings to mend their relationship.
The set of the production is lush with greenery and intrigue. The lighting and sound also do a wonderful job of conveying the fantastical and magical elements of the show on stage in a creative and clear way. The audience may not get to see Farrah or Leelee (Anne Yatco) fly or transform into aswangs literally, but the way their interactions are staged evokes a sense of magic that satisfies it.
Bloodletting ran at the Kirk Douglas Theatre until Sunday April 8th 2018 as a part of Center Theatre Group's Block Party. Tickets started at $25 and could be purchased online at: https://www.centertheatregroup.org/tickets/kirk-douglas-theatre/2017-18-season/block-party/