Dolphy’s dramatic showcase
For some viewers who knew Dolphy mainly as a comedic actor, the vintage piece must have been a surprise—if not a downright shock. Instead of his usual fey and puckish self, Dolphy dug deep into his “serious” emotional resources to do justice to the story of his character, an old man who had spent 40 years in prison for a crime that he did not commit.
Talk about a major acting challenge, this extremely put-upon character would have tested the thespic resources of our best veteran dramatic actors.
Happily, Dolphy was able to meet the rigorous challenge, especially in the penultimate scene in which his character’s innocence was finally affirmed, and the son who had hated him for decades realized that he had been terribly, tragically wrong.
Dolphy’s success proves that the traditional dividing line between “drama” and “comedy” is a spurious one. Whether the “style” is serious or funny, the subject matter is still life itself, and well-known tragi-comedians like Charlie Chaplin have proven that the twain are one.
—Which is not to say that “Bisikleta” was an overwhelming success from start to finish. For one thing, “MKK’s” penchant for overly long narration occasionally blunted the visceral impact of Dolphy’s portrayal. His character was made to spend too much time talking about events that had transpired in the distant past that, by the time the storytelling got to the present time, the emotional surge of the dramatic piece had a hard time peaking.
This excessive reliance on narration makes the events being talked about or recalled less vital and urgent than they should be. In addition, the “all-knowing” narrative makes things feel too pat and predictable to have a truly dynamic and empathetic impact on viewers.
Another actor who benefited from his exposure in the “MMK” tribute to Dolphy was his son and heir, Epi Quizon. He played his father as a young man and, aside from being a dead-ringer for his dad as a youth, Epi also brought to his portrayal his own unique intensity and thespic insights, which scorched the TV screen with their telling truth.
Thus, viewers of the episode were given the “bonus” of seeing how talent is handed down from one generation to the next. In the Quizons’ case, it’s clear from the way that Epi’s own acting career has developed that he has freed himself from the “obligation” for him to turn out to be a “Dolphy, Part 2.”
Yes, he can play comedic parts very effectively, but some of his outings, especially in indie movies, have shown that versatility is a key component of his emerging thespic ethos.
So, even as we mourn the death of Dolphy, “MKK’s” recent “replay tribute” gives us heart and hope, because it shows that the late star’s legacy is secure in the careers of some of his progeny, like Epi.
The King is dead; long live his “Epinymous” crown prince!
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.