Review by Olivia Ruggiero
Ate Lovia, currently playing at the Old Fitz Theatre, produced by kwento productions is a show with a whole lot of heart, for anyone who has ever had a dream. Rarely has a 2-act play been able to capture my attention but this new Filipino-Australian drama is a show that could and did.
Jordan Shea writes a truthful dialogue, that gives this wonderful team of actors a whole lot to play with. From witty one-liners to vulnerable monologues and some very well placed 90’s references, someone should snavel Jordan Shea up now, because he is brilliant. I am thrilled to be able to write that this is a brilliant concept, brilliantly executed, and much of that is thanks to Shea.
Kenneth Moraleda’s direction is so natural and organic that you barely have a chance to think about direction at all – for you are seemingly witnessing the reality of these lives play out in front of you. Moraleda takes Shea’s words and brings them to life with his subtle hand and gorgeous nuances.
There is a not a weak link in the cast – this group of actors is formidable, every single one of them doing justice to the meaty roles they have been given.
Chaya Ocampo glues the show together – there is not a beat, choice or bit of business that feels inauthentic. The words she speaks feel like her own. She has managed to mould to the character with such realism, I genuinely would have believed I was watching Lovia up there, and not Ocampo. Unafraid to be bold, at the same time so vulnerable, this performance should mark the start of an incredible career for Ocampo. I cannot wait to see what she does next.
Joseph Raboy embodies the gay, theatre loving teenage boy so perfectly, encapsulating the hopes and turmoils of youth with skills surpassing his years and with great professionalism. Delivering speeches to an absentee mother, he tugs at the heart strings, his physicality doing so much work for him – he almost doesn’t need words to express himself.
Marcus Rivera has a tough job playing the drunk, abusive, and hopeless caregiver and yet he does all of this so well. He is one of the few actors I have ever seen that can play drunk and not come across as though he is acting. He brings a performance fraught with truth that can leave you feeling uncomfortable, afraid, and shocked. Rivera is nothing short of excellent.
Dinidi Huckle Moran shows off some brilliant comedic timing and fierceness in this show. She is loveable and creates a character so relatable. She is calm and sure in her role and her chemistry with Ocampo is off the charts.
Anna Lee rounds out the cast as the once professional, now amateur theatre loving choreographer, and by gosh, does she excel at that. I found myself looking twice just to double check that it wasn’t one of the dance teachers from my youth up there… that is how genuine her performance is. She is funny, she is intense, and she is effervescent. Her character shows the most amazing development – going from the stubborn, slightly racist, and almost uncaring, selfish choreographer to an understanding, accepting, completely unselfish woman who finally pronounces Vergel’s name correctly, it is so significant to this story, and it rings true.
There is nothing I didn’t love about this show, from the lighting states that added to the intensity, from the sound design that felt unique to every scene. This is show that speaks to a multitude of people on so many levels. The whole team should be proud of what they have accomplished. They have created something special here. I would happily by a ticket again and bring an army of people with me.