November 11, 2014

There are tour guides, and there are tour guides. Should you visit the Philippines, see if you can still get Carlos Celdran, who is also a performance artist and has brought his very entertaining solo show, Livin’ la Vida Imelda, to the Clurman Theater. He’ll tell you about the time Imelda Marcos, former first lady of the Philippines, had a nervous breakdown and spent a year in New York, at Bellevue. (Some say she emerged a new woman, with big hair and big confidence.) About the Manila cultural center she built without a parking lot; apparently, if you planned to attend a performance there, you’d better have a limousine and a driver. About her plan, unbeknown to the British royal family, to have her daughter marry Prince Charles. No one is going to confuse the Ma-Yi Theater Company’s production of Livin’ la Vida Imelda with Here Lies Love, the other current show about Ms. Marcos. Here Lies Love is a splashy multimedia musical; Mr. Celdran’s one-act presentation is more like a gleefully gossipy study guide. If you examine it closely, you’ll see that it’s mostly just a lecture with black-and-white slides, but Mr. Celdran’s charm and showmanship turn it into genuine theater. (Ralph B. Peña is the director.)