Duel of dramatic ‘divos’By Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The big deal on TV these days, at least as far as ABS-CBN sees it, is the ongoing acting “duel” between drama “divos” Piolo Pascual and Jericho Rosales on “Dahil sa Pag-ibig.”
Last week, Piolo beat up Jericho really badly in a fit of rage and righteous fury, despite the fact that he was a priest and was thus supposed to promote love and peace, not literally in-your-face violence.
His beef with Jericho? He had found out in the confessional that Jericho was bent on avenging himself on Piolo’s entire family – for the sins of its evil pater familias (Christopher de Leon)!
To actualize his revenge, Jericho even made Piolo’s adoptive sister (Cristine Reyes) fall for him – and therein lies a complicating tale, because she once had the hots for Piolo, despite his priestly proclivities. Oh, the colorful and lushly libertine lives these teleserye characters live!
In any case, the question of the month now goes: Who’s the better actor on ‘Dahil’ – Piolo or Jericho? Who’s winning in their protracted duel, as Jericho tries to get his bloody pound of flesh and Piolo fiercely attempts to stop him?
The supreme irony to all this is the fact that, if memory serves, the series’ back story has hinted that the two combative guys are in fact brothers – separated during childhood, and brought up by different families after the death of their father (of which Christopher stands accused).
So, if this is really the case, the story has acquired a sort of “Abel and Cain” coloration and complication that further intensifies and complicates its already biblical central conflict.
Well, enough of the pasakalye, let’s get to the main bone of contention and evaluate the two male leads’ portrayals vis-a-vis one another:
Edge over Piolo
Jericho’s key edge over Piolo as an actor is his willingness to go over the edge in terms of extreme emotional commitment, while Piolo is well known to be the cooler type, more focused on nuance and lesser emotional investment in the scenes he enacts.
So, right off the bat, Jericho appears to have the advantage over Piolo in terms of pulling viewers into the heart of his character’s pain and anguish, thus helping them more forcefully understand and empathize with what his character is deeply feeling.
In “Dahil,” however, that key advantage on Jericho’s part is eroded by the series’ extremely slow storytelling, especially when it comes to detailing how Jericho’s character carries out his vengeful plans.
He spends so much time psychologically inveigling himself into his target family’s trust and affection that the rising action needed to make a secret scheme dramatically urgent and empathetic has been difficult to achieve and sustain.
In addition, the actor has been given too many crying scenes and similarly emotional flashback sequences to remind viewers of the raw roots of his pain, and these have likewise sapped his portrayal of dramatic intensity.
We fear that, by the time he actually sets his plan in full motion, viewers may not care all that much anymore about how it turns out.
The verdict, therefore: Jericho is innately a more intense and giving actor than Piolo, but the key advantage isn’t made to work fully for him in “Dahil sa Pag-ibig.” So, the duel thus far is ending up as a disappointing, discombobulating and desultory draw.
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