Cheating for entertainment

Admit it or not, a lot of people love scandalous stories of infidelity. Why? Because cheating attracts drama. Affairs, lies, manipulations, secrets and that forbidden romantic relationship, make for compelling stories on stage and on the silver screen.

Here is a list of ongoing and upcoming shows that share the same theme: cheating. It’s an eclectic selection — from an award-winning playwright to your local adult streaming B-flick.

Cheating and deception are immoral, but these shows do not aim to glamorize or promote such sinful actions. They attempt to shed light on this tragic reality and psychologize the cheater and the victim, as well as explore the nuances of complex human behaviors.



Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize-winning British playwright, had a seven-year clandestine affair with BBC television presenter Joan Bakewell that ended in 1969. Inspired by this, he wrote Betrayal. It was produced by the National Theater in London in 1978, and is considered as one of Pinter’s major dramatic works.

Since then, Betrayal won prestigious awards and has found numerous productions in different countries throughout the years, with critically acclaimed actors involved in past productions, including the likes of Michael Gambon and Tom Hiddleston.

Now, it has found its way in the Philippines through the Repertory Philippines, as the production runs until 17 March at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater in RCBC Plaza.

The three-hander drama follows married couple Emma and Robert, and Emma’s seven-year affair with Robert’s best friend, Jerry (who is also married). It’s a commendable cast of London-based Filipino actors — James Bradwell, James Cooney and Vanessa White. Pinter has used reverse chronology and reveals the affair in the beginning, before jumping into different timelines.

I was lucky enough to have been invited to the opening night and witness the celebrated play from Pinter. This is not my first exposure to Pinter’s work, but this is my first experience of Betrayal, which proves the playwright’s mastery of clear, concise dialogue.

Directed by the New York and London-based Victor Lirio, the play runs a short one hour and a half and hinges on memories as its major narrative tool.


Jerome Ponce, Diego Loyzaga, Jasmine Curtis-Smith and Jason Paul Laxamana.

Jason Paul Laxamana delves into mental health, and how technology affects our decisions and coping mechanisms, in his low-budget multi-genre film.

I was invited to the packed red-carpet screening, and without reading any information about the movie, I had the impression that it’s another romantic film. But it is surprisingly not.

Starring Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Diego Loyzaga and Jerome Ponce, the film touches on timely themes. Laxamana echoes the current surge of artificial intelligence. He cocoons his drama mainly within the confines of a virtual-reality studio that offers dating fantasy through motion-capture technology.

All three main characters suffer from mental and emotional distress, and Laxamana provokes commentary on people’s reliance on escapism through technology, temporary treatment and distractions from their debilitating problems.

So, if you have a boyfriend and you cheat on him with a virtual “boy next door,” is it right or wrong? But the film’s true depiction of cheating here is cheating one’s self.


Arah Alonzo and Shiela Snow of Vivamax’s ‘Kalikot.’

Streaming on Vivamax on 12 March is a tale of illicit affair between a female professor (Shiela Snow) and her college student (Van Allen Ong), who already has a girlfriend, his classmate (Arah Alonzo).

The trailer was shown at the presscon, and it reveals more than just a sexually charged love triangle.

“I want the sexiness to be intrinsic to the story,” said the film’s director, Temi Cruz Abad. He added that he tried to give his characters a proper backstory with clear motivations. “If there’s one thing I can promise, given my background, [Kalikot] is decent storytelling.”


(FROM left) Armani Hector, director Jay Castillo, Jenn Rosa and Nico Locco of Vivamax’s ‘TL.’ | PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEPHANIE MAYO FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE

T.L. here stands for Team Leader. The directorial debut of Jay Castillo, the Vivamax erotica, which streams beginning 30 March, dives into the call center industry where workers engage in sexual favors to get promoted.

Its central character Brenda (Jenn Rosa) works in the same call center as her boyfriend Phil (Armani Hector), and they often use the office for their trysts. Soon, however, Brenda — driven by ambition — gets entangled with TL Carl (Nico Locco). And when cheating is involved, problems naturally transpire.

Castillo said at the presscon that their visual reference for the film is “2009 porn.”

When asked about his influences in filmmaking, Castillo said, “For the general feel or mood of the film, I really go to my roots, because I really love [director] Guy Ritchie’s films.”

He added that they decided to use “high contrast” style of storytelling to achieve a “dark mood to the sexual drama.”