Sabi-Sabi | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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SABI-SABI, Pintig Cultural Group, at Greenview Arts Center. It's the third anniversary of Lainie's Filipino restaurant and karaoke club, but the merriment of friends and customers is only a mask for the sorrowful secrets that split families apart, sending unhappy children fleeing from their parents in search of love, identity, and a place to belong.

Sabi is a term roughly equivalent to "hearsay"--as in "those things that everybody knows but nobody talks about." But the Pintig Cultural Group thinks it's high time to address these problems, which include mothers who force their daughters to fulfill their own frustrated ambitions and fathers who abuse their children, making them marry early or run away. Though some of the stories woven into Sabi-Sabi take only small steps toward exposing these issues, they do open the way to discussion and remedy.

The six playwrights--Jennifer Asidao, Patty Cooper, Sherry Diaz, Myra Kalaw, Larry Leopoldo, and Alan Sargan--under the supervision of Jeannie Barroga articulate their themes with economical incisiveness: the entire play runs a bare 90 minutes. And though the level of training and experience among the cast members is uneven, director Edgardo De La Cruz keeps the action focused and lively, for Sabi-Sabi has its moments of humor as well as anguish. Particularly memorable performances include those by Evelyn Masbaum as the crusading Mari, Riza Belen as the humble hospital aide who lives for the weekend, when she becomes the glamorous cabaret star Consuelita, and Joseph Mendoza as Joey the happy transvestite.

The problems addressed by Sabi-Sabi are not unlike those of any immigrant community--whether the dislocation is geographic, financial, or familial--so one need not be Filipino to see oneself among Lainie's habitues.

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