In an age of crass commercialism, folks seem to be searching for a more spiritual existence. That search just might just take them to a retreat center such as Infinite Possibilities, where New Age mumbo jumbo meets the mess of humanity.
Before the curtain rises on Infinite Possibilities, the Ward Theatre Company audience finds itself awaiting the start of a group therapy session. The performance space has a spa-like feel, with bamboo furnishings, a water feature, and soothing music drifting through the room.
While we wait for therapy to begin, a television center stage shows advertisements from impossibly happy people, talking about the healing and peace to be found here. Satisfied customers give testimonials about how the Infinite Possibilities Center changed their lives. However, we begin to see small cracks in this façade.
The talking heads are just a little too happy. There are a few miscues. These ads are slightly off kilter, giving us the sense that these are regular folks trying to make a sale. While we wait, we also see the regular folk, such as Oliver (Carter Smith) and Shelly (Emily Hershey), behind the scenes, preparing the room for the guests. It takes a lot of work and sweat to make things seem effortless!
Then the folks attending therapy start to wander in. First is Amber (Jennifer Romeo), who uses a feng shui book to choose her seat around a circle. Next is Rebecca (Ashleigh Eason), a yoga aficionado who strikes a yoga pose. She is followed by Linda and Sam (Erin Wenger and Chadwick Thompson), who live at the center, a crying Elizabeth (Amy Paquette), and Keith (Nicholas Todaro), who we learn has anger issues and who is simply there because of a court order.
By the time Jim (Guy Beretich), an ineffectual “substitute” counselor and his wife, Cynthia (Sharon Bishop), arrive, we already know that we are in for some human drama. We also know we are in for some laughs, as counselor Jim can barely get through the introduction exercises.
Jim’s inability to lead or explain exercises causes confusion amongst the attendees. On top of that, his overbearing wife creates her own drama, and the infighting between those seeking peace gets interrupted by commercials playing sporadically from the television, staff interruptions, and in-fighting.
With the diversity of the characters, there is someone for everyone to relate to. As the therapy session goes on, and the characters start to share, we see them working through grief, anger, and loss — while at the same time keeping us laughing at the absurdity of it all. Isn’t that life? Even if the center is a moneymaking endeavor, with its New Age ideas and adult coloring books, could it still help these lost souls?
We enjoyed the details that were put into the production. The characters’ outfits were spot-on, and the room felt like a retreat. Even the playbill was a glossy sales brochure for the center. Overall, the show had plenty of laughs, but there were also deep moments to savor and surprising plot twists.
There were lots of new faces on the stage, and we look forward to seeing them again in the future. Jennifer Romeo was a standout, with her Cheshire-cat smile and granola aura.
There are infinite personalities in Infinite Possibilities. Will these folks find inner peace, because of or despite their therapy? Venture to the Ward Theatre Company on Oct. 25-27 to find out and to discover your own infinite possibilities. And like them on Facebook!
The Ward Theatre Company presents INFINITE POSSIBILITIES at 8 p.m. Oct. 25 and 26 and 4 p.m. Oct. 27 at 4905 Pine Cone Dr., Suites 11 & 12, Durham, North Carolina 27707.
BOX OFFICE (scroll down): https://www.wardtheatrecompany.com/infinite-possibilities.
CONTACT: 919-973-2522, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.wardtheatrecompany.com/contact/.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://vimeo.com/366341164.
PRESENTERS: http://www.wardtheatrecompany.com/, http://www.wardstudio.com/, https://www.facebook.com/WardTheatreCompany/, and https://www.facebook.com/wardactingstudio/.
Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.