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Imelda - Sapatos Angels Collective (Summer Nights)

Updated: Feb 15

Reviewed by Jordan D'Arcy


It is wonderful that Perth is beginning to see more and more stories inspired by and written about people with different perspectives and backgrounds being produced in our theatres. 'Imelda' was written by Donita Cruz and was originally developed for a WAAPA third-year showcase. This production is clearly an ensemble effort, with significant love and heart at the centre of the show.

The script is devised around the larger-than-life caricature of Imelda Marcos – an infamous Filipino politician and former First Lady. She rose to infamy when her family were living lavishly as the rest of the Philippines was suffering from economic hardship and civil unrest. Imelda and her family were exiled to Hawaii until they were allowed to return to face the consequences of their actions after the death of her husband Ferdinand.

Efa Mackenzie was very funny in the titular role of Imelda. It should be illegal to be funny and then also have a voice as impressive as hers. Jenny Guigayoma as Maria Clara was excellent – the switching of her accent to indicate time had passed while she was in Australia was very clear. Her characterisation of younger Maria Clara was also very believable.

The rest of the ensemble, Rachel Adams and Zoe Garciano, were both well rehearsed and kept the entire show running smoothly, doubling as stagehands.

It was occasionally hard to identify where we were on the timeline of events, and unclear at times which people Rachel Adams and Zoe Garciano were representing – but in the scheme of things, this is a fairly minor gripe to have with a new script.

The lights, designed by Donita Cruz, were clever and helped to clarify the time and space we were in. The set was minimal but very effective. The attention to detail in simply recreating parts of the real-life Imelda did not go unnoticed for instance finding shoe racks that matched the ones in the footage played from the real Imelda’s life.

Although it could use some further workshopping (as all new works do) Imelda is definitely one to watch. If you, like me, are not overly familiar with the political climate in the Philippines, you may find yourself wanting to learn more about Imelda Marcos, either before or after the show. I really enjoyed the show, even though walking in I didn't feel like I was necessarily the target audience – I imagine if you are someone who comes from the Philippines this show would be an absolute hoot, and even those who are not will certainly have a good time and maybe get more out of it than they might expect.

Efa Mackenzie (Imelda Marcos) and Jenny Guigayoma (Maria Clara). Photography by Edwin Sitt.

Reviewer Note: Tickets for this review were provided by the theatre company.


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