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Scenes From an Unfinished Country: 1905/1995



Pintig Cultural Group, at the Greenview Arts Center.

In Chris Millado's two-hour drama with music, two theater companies separated by 90 years collide: Pintig Cultural Group is restaging Juan Matapang Cruz's seditious 1905 Filipino drama, Hindi Aco Patay ("I Am Not Yet Dead"), while flashbacks show what made Cruz's revolutionary theater truly dangerous to U.S. occupying forces. At the end, the contemporary actors state their names and describe the demise of their historical counterparts in Cruz's company--typically arrest, incarceration, or disappearance.

It's a powerful moment, one of the few when the cast speak from the heart. More often they stumble through Millado's sketchy, confused script, swallowing their lines. The first act brings up a host of important issues--racism, sexism, homophobia, our government's anti-immigrant hysteria--but promptly drops them all. Millado's clumsy staging does little to clarify the material in this first act, which is about everything and nothing.

In the second act, when Millado focuses on Cruz's final performance, the play gains a bit of momentum. Yet Millado persists in cramming too many people onstage and giving them nothing to do, except indulge in endless sotto voce business. If Pintig aims to become the "voice of the Filipino-American community in Chicago," as producer Angela "Ging" Mascarenas says in a program note, they must produce something stronger than community theater.

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