Careful what you wish for: “Patience” in review

Actors Workshop Theatre’s latest presentation explores desire and regret

Thompson Rivers University’s Actors Workshop Theatre put on their first show of 2014 with “Patience” on Oct. 9.

Kory Cudmore stars as Reuben, a competitive and egocentric man who lives the Canadian dream with his own company and a formulaic family in 1998. All at once, Reuben loses his job, wife, kids and sense of direction.

Reuben tries to pinpoint the moment it all went wrong and figure out how to go on with the input of his brother, wife, friends and coworkers.

“He comes so close to having everything he wants and then he throws it away,” Cudmore said.

The play mirrors Reuben’s ups and downs with some heavy philosophical musings interspersed with comedy.

Throughout the play, each character tries to figure out what they really want and realizes that sometimes getting what they want still doesn’t make them happy.

“Every character has a distinguished character arc,” said Josh Sunderman, who plays the Rabbi, a comedic character, who also offers Reuben some insight.

Director Wesley Eccleston (left) and the cast of "Patience". (from left to right) Wesley Eccleston, Joe Bunn, Celine Majcher, Rebekah Binder, Daniel Ondang, Erik Stephany, Shannon Dunn, Madison Henry, Jessica Buchanan, Mercedes Basford, Taran Waterhous, Chanelle Renee, and Josh Sunderman

Director Wesley Eccleston (left) and the cast of “Patience”. (from left to right) Wesley Eccleston, Joe Bunn, Celine Majcher, Rebekah Binder, Daniel Ondang, Erik Stephany, Shannon Dunn, Madison Henry, Jessica Buchanan, Mercedes Basford, Taran Waterhous, Chanelle Renee, and Josh Sunderman (Marlys Klossner/The Omega)

The supporting cast offers refreshing candidness and hope in comparison to Reuben. For example, Liz (Jessica Buchanan) is Reuben’s brother’s new flame. Liz is the youngest of the characters and does not yet feel the jaded cynicism that the rest of the cast struggles with.

Reuben’s brother Phil (Taran Waterous), describes his character as “a grass is always greener on the other side kind of guy.” Once Phil gets to the other side, he regrets his decisions.

This is true of most of the cast, as they ponder whether they are truly living or just going through the motions. Though somewhat misguided, the characters of “Patience” are just searching for meaningful connections, but real life doesn’t live up to the ideal.

Reuben’s story is told both as it unfolds, and through flashbacks and dream-like episodes. Each of the supporting characters voice concerns that reflect Reuben’s own subconscious. In the second act, it becomes clear that Reuben’s surreal imaginings are influenced by his past. The pace switches quickly, so be prepared to adjust your headspace.

Reuben owns a cell phone company, so he is always connected to his loved ones but doesn’t actually communicate. It feels like this theme should be more apparent, as the stage is bracketed with circuit-like design.

The set was minimalist in style, with simple grey furniture that was rearranged for every new scene. Some of the transitions were lengthy, but understandable considering the amount of rearrangement.

Behind the actors was a circular projection screen that showed repetitive, cyclical designs, from Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” to Buddhist symbols.

Despite a few line hiccups, the show went smoothly and the audience was responsive. The actors successfully balanced the more admirable and less admirable traits of their characters.

The play is realistic and doesn’t end with everyone back to being shiny happy people.

“Patience” will play Oct. 16 to 18. Tickets are $14 and can be purchased at the ticket booth outside the Black Box Theatre or in advance.