The Problem of Spectacle In David Byrne’s Here Lies Love

Comments

1
Likewise, The King and I glosses over the true nature of the King of Siam and all the intrinsic specificity of his rule and its impact. But hey, the songs are nice!
2
Maybe not as "multifaceted" as the article's author would have liked, but way more entertaining.

If you want an in-depth critique of Imelda Marcos' role in the history of the Philippines, read a fucking book. Personally, catching The Seattle Rep's Here Lies Love definitely got me to read up on all things Filipino and the history of the People Power Revolution, which I had no idea existed up until a month ago.
3
I cannot disagree with you Sara, and I would love to see an interview between you & David, or ven you & the cast.

There is so much more to unlock here, and yet, I believe the intent of this production (in it's various venues) IS to gloss over the real indepth story, and maybe inspire its audience to seek the truth in much more detail.

I believe this play was created for its entertainment to the masses. It does not disappoint, in my opinion.
4
I enjoyed the contributions to theatrical spectacle I saw at Here Lies Love. It was a good time, but afterward, I felt a little guilty. I felt as though making a musical about a powerful, iconic woman with an irresistible rags-to-riches story is the easy thing to do. But then again, audiences probably wouldn't be keen on a musical about the struggles of the destitute who suffered most under the hands of an outwardly glamorous dictatorship. The next step is to educate myself on the realities of history (which, much like #2, I might not have ever done without the prompting of this experience).
5
Personally, I would have loved to have seen another 30-45 minutes of content going deeper into the very things posted in this article. It's a pretty short show. Hamilton runs for nearly twice as long (but then you'd have to throw in an intermission, which can also take the audience out of a show, and has additional logistics with this show in getting people in and out of the dance floor).

However I think the review glosses over the sheer technical and visual brilliance of this production. It is visually arresting to watch and the lighting design alone makes this show worth seeing. Not to mention the challenges of putting together an immersive show in a proscenium space. This production is unique and expands theater as an art form. While the review brings up some valid points with the story, don't let it dissuade you from going if you get the chance.
6
Clearly its a slow day in review land. Why this review now after the show has already been open for a month? Did the reviewer see the same show that I did? There are plenty of moments where Imelda is self-realized and not defined by the men in her life. I'm thinking of the songs "Don't You Agree", "Star and Slave", and "Please Don't". I also disagree that "Why Don't You Love Me" doesn't reflect its original intent on the concept album. Here we have Imelda asking the people why they don't love her after everything she feels they've given them, coupled with Estrella's lament directed towards Imelda about how she feels she did everything for Imelda to only receive her indignation in return. Further, reflect on the songs I mentioned above for a deeper dive into character exploration above what is merely offered in this critique of "explained away by drugs".
7
I realize Ms. Porkalob is a talented actress, having seen her in several shows around town, but what are her credentials as a theater critic? (Should waiters be writing reviews for other restaurants? How about movie publicists writing film reviews?) Why wasn’t her possibly-biased position explained to your readers, and why didn’t either of your regular theater writers (Rich Smith and Christopher Frizzelle) contribute their more seasoned opinions?

I – and every single one of my friends who have seen “Here Lies Love” – read more about the Philippines and the Marcos regime after attending the Rep’s production than we ever would have before, so any kvetching about “glossing over the story” with a disco beat seems like sour grapes. Sure, I would have been served a better history lesson by going to a library and spending several hours researching, but I wasn’t going to do that. The best entertainment provides insight and spurs its audience towards enlightenment. In that light, "Here Lies Love" succeeds spectacularly.
8
I'd like to chime in here as someone who has now seen HLL 3 times (and going at least one more time before the show leaves the Rep). I'm a Filipina, born in Cebu City a month before Marcos martial law was lifted, and my parents were Marcos loyalists. Seeing this play fucked me up in a big way - why did my family support this corrupt regime, is this why my mom loves Trump (true story), WHO EVEN AM I. Like some of the commenters above it actually made me interested to read and educate myself on my Philippine identity. While I was very skeptical about a white man telling a Filipino story (and I love me some David Byrne), I can't deny that the heavily immersive experience of this "marketable, danceable" musical forced me to grapple with my past that a book or more "serious" play might not have been able to do. Maybe I'm just basic? It's fine. I should also mention that seeing the predominantly Filipino cast up front and center, showcasing their talents and beauty, made me feel so many feelings. I can see why this play is problematic and reductive to some, and many of the people who go see it won't have the same emotional reaction I did. But for me, it was life changing.