INTAR Unit52’s, ‘Patience, Fortitude and Other Anti-Depressants,’ a Colorful, Urban Trip Down the Rabbit Hole of the Mind
By Liana Aráuz
Patience, Fortitude and Other Anti-Depressants by the New York City based theater company INTAR follows a young wife and painter, Isabella, living in the urban community of Jackson Heights, as she struggles with conflicting thoughts, lack of sleep, and the competing opinions her friends and family on the direction her life should take. The play is being presented as part of the Los Angeles Theatre Center’s Encuentro 2014, a Latino theater festival running through November 12th.
Patience… is the brainchild of INTAR’s Unit52, an ensemble unit in training that collaborates each year to create a new production. Playwright Mariana Carreño King drew inspiration from (and considers the play a loose adaptation of) Federico Garcia Lorca’s Yerma, partly out of necessity since most of the unit members were females. Turns out this was a happy accident because it produced a variety of greatly drawn funny, brave, bitter, insecure, but mostly gorgeously human characters.
The drawback is that ensemble is not always even. Casting had to be done exclusively from members of Unit52 who all have different level of training. Some actors seem a bit more comfortable with the material than others. The title roles of “Patience” and “Fortitude,” for example, seemed to fit the actresses playing them perfectly while others in the cast looked like they were still warming up to their parts and their relationship within the story.
By far the greatest achievements are in the staging and writing. The scenic design is simple and minimal; the sound and technical elements never overpower the story but very delicately enhance it. With a multitude of settings this story could have easily become messy but Daniel Jáquez’s direction orchestrates the actors in a fun, organic, seamless fashion which creates visually captivating scenes. The carnival and dream sequence were beautiful to watch.
The text is rich and witty, ranging from fast-paced urban dialog to poetic imagery. It matches the dynamics of the play in which the lines of reality and the inner workings of the mind interlace. It is a tribute to Carreño King’s writing and Jáquez’s directing, that the action is easy to follow and the audience is never lost as the characters navigate within these two planes. Not surprisingly, a post-show conversation with them revealed that they have been collaborating for years.
Beyond the technical elements, at the heart of Patience, Fortitude and Other Anti-Depressants dwells the age old dilemma of free will versus destiny. How much is of life shaped by environment versus inner determination? Or do these symbiotically influence one another? These themes reveal our current youth’s ongoing struggle with trying to figure out what they want out of life. The question might not be fully answered, but audiences will laugh, dance, and definitely be moved in the process.
Patience, Fortitude and Other Anti-Depressants, written by Mariana Carreño King and directed by Daniel Jáquez is performed by INTAR during Encuentro 2014 with performances on:
Thu Oct. 23, Nov. 6 at 8:30
Fri. Oct. 31 at 8:30
Sat Oct. 18 at 2:30 and 8:30, Nov. 8 at 8:30
Sun Oct. 26, Nov. 2 at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.