Double Trouble

There’s a question that’s often called to mind when facing dilemmas: “What would your best self do?”

Indeed what would Best Daryl do when facing problems? (Or when he’s not facing any?) Surely Best Daryl is going to do everything well. Great, actually. Perfect.

And he’ll be perfectly annoying.

His greatness is going to crawl under my skin, because, heck, he’s me and I don’t have his confidence and intelligence and overall awesomeness and biceps.

That is the predicament which Netflix’s Paul Rudd-starrer, Living with Your Self, explores. Miles Elliot (Rudd) is an advertising agent who is stuck in a rut, probably depressed. Until his star-employee colleague tips him about a spa that can turn anyone into their “best self”.

Miles goes to the spa, incredulous but miserable. After a short chitchat with the therapists, he falls asleep on the operating chair and wakes up gasping for breath — in a shallow grave in the woods.

Disoriented, he limps home for hours…only to find his best self talking to his wife, Kate (Aisling Bea), upstairs.

The ensuing tussle between the two Miles — through a fast-paced eight-episode run — is both hilarious and thought provoking. Which is probably why it is addicting. The characters are — hard to admit — relatable. Who has never “bickered” with themselves? Who has not been ashamed of their past wrongdoings, their past selves? Who has never seen themselves in a mirror and said, “Ugh.”

Not me. When I learned the word “should”, I became aware of a constant battle between Actual Daryl and Ideal Daryl. (Bear with me.) Sometimes, it’s exhausting, that inner war. Especially when Actual fails and Ideal seems to gloat. And especially if you live in a culture that fetishizes “constant improvement”, “self-help”, and “positive psychology”.

But the two, fortunately, end up reconciling at some point, thank God. This is when you admit you’re wrong and resolve to be better next time. That’s always the sweetest moment between Actual and Ideal.

And all this, Living with Yourself plays out dramatically well.

Lea Salonga Shines in Sweeney Todd

Born to and raised by parents who worshiped Tony laureate Lea Salonga, I obviously had high expectations of the Manila staging of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Topbilled by Salonga (as Mrs. Lovett) alongside Jett Pangan (former lead vocalist of rock band The Dawn as the eponymous character), the musical was long awaited.

It did not disappoint.

Especially Salonga’s performance. In several ways, I love her interpretation of Mrs. Lovett more than Helena Bonham-Carter’s. Compared to the latter’s, hers is a louder, more comical, lovesick woman. It was my first time to watch Salonga perform live, and the experience shattered my previous image of her as the almost-always wholesome artist. The lady can do comedy — the dark kind, even the one laden with innuendos.

The most memorable part for me — more than The Worst Pies in London — is her rendition of By the Sea. Hilarious. Letting out a seagull’s GAAWK and slithering on Sweeney Todd’s lap (seducing him in vain), she proves to be a more versatile artist than you’ve probably known her.

Sweeney Todd is staged at Solaire until October 27.