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A critical decision

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By Michelle Anne P. Soliman, Reporter

Theater Review
Charot!
Presented by PETA

PETA’s inventive musical comedy Charot! takes place on election day in May 2020 when citizens of P.I. battle traffic and bad weather to reach their voting precincts before they close. A plebiscite is being held to determine whether the nation will transition to a new charter which will establish federalism as the country’s new form of government.

But before the performance starts, the audience is asked to connect to the theater’s free wi-fi — they will be participating in a plebiscite themselves, voting on serveral questions during the course of the play. It is advised to keep the browser open until the end of the show. (If the wi-fi is slow, activate your mobile data. If you have no data, you can borrow your seatmate’s phone and open a new browser to vote.)

Read the short primer on federalism distributed by the cast if you’re one of the lucky audience members to be given one. It is not a dummy script.

It is noon when a group of citizens — a female millennial influencer, a millennial boy who is indifferent about the impact a plebiscite can have, a supermall saleslady, a gay former OFW turned carpool driver, a pregnant woman, an aunt motivated to finish her 10,000 daily steps, a traffic enforcer, a street vendor, and a nurse who has had breast augmentation — are on their way to their precinct to vote. A car accident followed by unexpected heavy rain cause a traffic jam. The characters resort to getting out of their cars and walking — but they cannot go forward as the rains have cause a flood.

They begin to worry that they will not be able to vote. While stuck, they begin to voice out their views about the possible shift in the system of government. Each of the characters present the varied (and oftentimes confused) attitudes Filipinos have about federalism and charter change.

By 4 p.m., things get competitive when a rescue helicopter with limited seats and orange life boat arrive. This leads to a division between the group based on differences in their political views.

I particularly admire how representations of the country’s current situation are represented through the traffic as a slow movement to progress, the bad weather and flood as hindrances to a course of action. The characters are relatable as they represent Filipinos from all walks of life with diverse attitudes and perspectives.

Listen carefully to the song lyrics as they are not only entertaining and catchy, but also voice messages about the value of democracy.

By the end of the show, the characters finally arrive at the precinct to cast their votes. However, the poll results are 50-50. The final votes are cast by the audience. (You should have your phones and internet connection all set by now.) The evening that BusinessWorld watched, the audience poll showed a majority vote against charter change.

If an actual plebiscite of charter change is held, we can only hope that we understand well enough what the proposed shift in the system of government entails to make the right decision. After all, the marks we make on a ballot set the indelible course of our nation’s future.

Charot! runs until March 17. For tickets and schedules, contact TicketWorld (www.ticketworld.com.ph, 891-9999).

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