Theater review: 'Twenty Questions' has timeless appeal

Fred Hawson

Posted at May 14 2023 03:35 PM | Updated as of May 15 2023 05:03 PM

'Twenty Questions' stars Diego Aranda and Isabelle Pardo. Facebook/Theater Titas PH
'Twenty Questions' stars Diego Aranda and Isabelle Prado. Facebook/Theater Titas PH

Jigs (Diego Aranda) and Yumi (Isabelle Prado) were members of one gang of friends. They had a yearly tradition to lock one boy and one girl, supposedly randomly picked, to spend 24 hours together in one hotel room. So far, those who had been locked together before all went on to have successful romantic lives as couples. At the start, Jigs and Yumi were determined to be the first couple not to end up together when they get out of the room. 

As an ice breaker, Jigs suggested that they play a game of "Twenty Questions" to be able to get to know each other better. Each one gets to ask any question on any topic about the other one. They would go alternatingly one after the other. One cannot ask the same question once it had been asked of him already. The questions started off easy, but each subsequent question got more and more uncomfortable to answer, even with the wine.

"Twenty Questions" was the very first play written by playwright Juan Ekis in 2003. It won Ekis second place in the one-act play category in the Carlos Palanca Awards. This year, 20 years later, the play was chosen by the Theater Titas to be their fourth project, their first since the pandemic and since their membership in Philstage. Their first show "What's in the Dark?" was staged Halloween 2017, which I was able to watch back then (MY REVIEW). 

The twenty questions started with mundane questions like biggest frustrations or future plans. However, they soon went on to discuss more private matters, mostly about their past relationships. At first their conversations were light and jovial. However, as the questions become more challenging (and the wine they kept drinking loosened their tongues and inhibitions), the mood turned darker as more serious secrets were revealed.

Because of Yumi's more colorful love life and long list of past lovers, it was Isabelle Prado who had the more exciting and provocative stories to confess. This being her professional theatrical debut, Prado nailed her tough role, shifting seamlessly from wacky comedy to painful drama. Because Jigs was the conservative guy with a rigid-as-an-arrow sense of morality, Diego Aranda played as the dorky yet charming straight-man in this two hander. 

I have not seen the original "Twenty Questions" so I could not comment on how director Cheese Mendez (one of the founding Theater Titas) had adapted the script to the present Gen Z milieu. The issues about virginity, living-in, sex and its attendant problems among the youth probably did not change that much in 20 years. However, there still wasn't much mention about social media and the major effect it had on relationships these days. 

In any case, the material still held up very well even twenty years after Juan Ekis wrote it -- a testament of its timeless appeal of Ekis' words and how they could make viewers reflect on their own attitudes about sex and relationships. It was a full-house when I watched, and the audience of mostly Gen Z and millennials lapped it up heartily, laughing and swooning in all the right places (probably also aided by the wine sold on their merch table).


The Theater Titas' production of Juan Ekis's "Twenty Questions" opened last May 12, 2023 and will run up to May 28, 2023, weekends only. The play is staged at the Mirror Studio Theater, an intimate venue located on the 5th floor of the SJG Centre, along Kalayaan Ave., in Brgy. Poblacion, Makati City. It plays for one hour, without intermission, in Taglish. 

SJG Centre has no parking slots for private cars. They suggest parking in Century City Mall (approximately a 10 minute walk away) or Power Plant Mall (approximately a 15 minute walk away). They do not recommend Kalayaan Ave. street parking as it is a clamping zone, but there were cars parked along the road that Saturday night I watched.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."