February 5, 2010

MASCKS '10: A Positive Picture

People who know me know that I like to comment on everything. Plays are no different, and while I don't have much experience acting in them, I am no stranger to watching them, so yes, I do have standards. Now, it's no surprise that those standards must be lowered, but negative impressions from several people in the know have led me to some of the lowest expectations I have ever set for anything in my life, and well, they were met.

But let's not take this in a negative light, in fact, wouldn't it be better to talk about it in a more positive way? The silver lining must always be seen in even the worst of things, and blurry it may be in the clouds, it's there. No, it's not much of a formal review, as it is a good ol' blog post.

DISCLAIMER: This is not a personal attack to any specific person.

So let's dissect this thing for a bit. As they say, everything done has a purpose, and it is obvious that things must be explored from a different perspective in order for a person to actually give appreciation to any kind of work.

Per usual, the opener for this play is nothing else but a song and dance number. Now, if the last play's introductory number actually somewhat set a "mood" for the reality that is gritty New York (with a whimsically fashionable twist), this one has absolutely nothing to do with anything. There is absolutely no relation, nor any mention of this number through the course of the film, but it does set a template for the several musical numbers that come after it. Now, the great thing about this is that it attracts the attention of the viewer, because the audience has ADD, as everyone knows.

The green patterned lights, seizure-inducing they may be upon closer inspection, assure the audience's distraction from external factors like cellphones and technical difficulties, something like, say, the fact that "good and evil collides".

Truly something as fundamental as SVA won't be able to faze a viewer's expectations, given that they weren't already dragging those expectations on the ground, because as we all know, story is much more fundamental than the petty technical things, and, well, how about we dig into that?

I'm not good with names, especially Latin names that sound pretentious, so I shall refer to the play as, well, "this/that play". So anyway "that play" is apparently based on Disney intellectual properties, and it can't be emphasized enough by its latest princess, Giselle, who before emphasizing "WALT DEESNEE" was looking for antagonist Rodmilla, who is more likely a property of 20th Century Fox. I concede, these petty facts don't totally undervalue the credibility of the actual "WALT DISNEY" theme, but it's still quite perplexing to see how people still mix these things up.

But I digress.

The plot structure is of note, as it breaks away from the norm.

Now, I've made a rough mockup of what is "this play's" plot structure:

Compare it to the usual narrative plot structure:

Bad it may seem to look like, the unique plot structure that "this play" introduces is rather distinctive. Note the repeated gaps between lines of exposition. These are the times when song and dance numbers are held. Arguably, the song and dance numbers that accompany the introduction of a character are the exposition, but they're too disposable and irrelevant, as there is nary a reference to the story elements that these songs introduce, even in the 'climactic' part that was a 1 minute swish of choreographed goodness.

But when taken into consideration, the story structure that "this play" adopts is very much similar to that of the 1001 Nights, only thing is, the Sheherazade of this play, Giselle, is not under any pressure of death or whatnot, she's just trying to convince Rodmilla of the magical (as if Apple didn't murder this word enough) ways that love traverses.

Still, the end involves all the characters involved in the encapsulated stories banding together to fight the five evil dudes. Since all of them come from the book that magically appeared out of nowhere (har-har-har, that smart aleck, self-aware Rodmilla), it's quite perplexing to see how they would simply pop out.

With the help of science, I've set out to find a solution to this mess, and here's a little fundamental assessment:

So in order for characters in a book to come into the real world, one must take into consideration the theory of relativity. Why? Because it involves space and time!

Now e=mc^2 is a equation that involves the equivalence of energy and mass. This means they are both equal and transmutable, transmutable meaning that energy and mass can be transformed into another form, thus the core concept of the transformation from book character to actual entity. Next, the concept of electric currents and resistance come into the mix. In order for the transmutation to happen, I suspect it to have much to do with electricity. I'm not sure why, since it's just a hunch, but didn't the flux capacitor of the DeLorean work because of the 88km/h speed that was required for it? It's the mechanical energy it needs to work, and that mechanical energy is undoubtedly sourced by a battery that runs on electric power, thus the involvement of capacitors and electric currents.

Of course, free fall is fit into there for that dramatic effect of falling from nowhere and into the biosphere.

Indeed, loose ends? I scoff at you for even citing them! This revelation's contribution to the plot structure further strengthen the advantages of having a plot that only appears in short bursts.

Besides, the audience has ADD.

Next in a list of lingering issues: the racial and historical inconsistencies that are present within.

That medieval castle, obviously made the day before the play (not that anything's particularly wrong with that), is present all throughout the different settings in the play, be it Chinese, or Arabian. Obviously, it's not changed because of budget constraints, it's not changed because it presents a metaphor. It is a metaphor of Big Brother, of the government sneaking up on your every move, stalking... always watching... It creates an atmosphere of paranoia and fear that punctuates the feel of evil further than even its script intended. It's an effective last-minute move, and I commend the play for it.

And what about Shan Yu in the Mulan segment? Why does he look like a Jedi? Also, why does the Slumdog track "O Saya" play before the Aladdin segment? Slumdog Millionaire, God bless that movie, is Indian while Aladdin is set in Arabia, as hinted by the song in the actual movie, "Arabian Nights". So how does it all correlate? Well, obviously the people at MASCKS were smart enough to put in another obscure metaphor; a metaphor of intergalactic peace and love. Co-existence among humans, and beyond. A very subtle way to send this message, very, very subtle. *slow clap, tear*

Dear, dear, I'm rambling interminably now, aren't I? Well, why don't I note one last thing: the general script. Its ridiculously, if not unnecessarily, deceptive complexity masks a simple story filled with extremely obscure, if not nearly invisible, political subtext. It insults the mind of the audience, but not in a bad way, and that's because people simply need their share of humble pie once in a while, and I certainly got that... well, after a few hours of analyzation of course. This style of condescending language and Wowowee-calibre entertainment tickles the mind of even the lowest common denominator, so it's assured that everyone has a share of fun and enjoyment.

How fucking priceless.

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