Patterns Review - A Corporate Twilight Zone

 

With almost eerie timelessness,  PATTERNS explores the in’s and out’s of corporate values and ethics in 1955. Based on an original teleplay by prolific writer Rod Serling and adapted for the theater by James Reach, the major themes are as true today as they were in 1955.  Picture the corporate boss surrounded by “yes” men; upper management trying to force out an old-timer perceived as “used up” and overly sentimental; bottom-line decisions based on profitability and nothing more.  Perhaps the only striking change from 1955 corporate America has been in the role of women, seen in PATTERNS as subservient, gossipy underlings. And even here an argument could be developed for this stereotype being at least partially true today in some settings.

 

 

 

Enter young, bright, and dynamic Fred Staples (Daniel Kaemon), supposedly imported from a position in Cincinnati to New York City for his creativity and exciting ideas - a dream come true for the ambitious and upwardly mobile Staples and his equally enchanted corporate wife Fran (Savannah Schoenecker).  In reality, Staples has been hired to replace older and sickly vice president Andy Sloane (James Schendel), whom the company’s president Ramsey (Richard Hoyt Miller) has written off as having outlived his usefulness. Into this labyrinth of hidden motivations, however, the unexpected occurs: Staples and Sloane find that they both have the same values and goals and quickly develop respect and affection for each other - much to the chagrin of their boss and counter to his plans for both.  When Ramsey decides to praise and elevate Staples for a report which he actually wrote in collaboration with Sloane - but to omit Sloane’s name from the report and even to run down Sloane in front of the corporate officers by calling him a liar and opportunist riding on the coat-tails of Staples’ brilliance, the play speeds towards the horns of a dilemma: Does Staples take the praise and the promotion? Or does he hold true to his core beliefs and support Sloane? And what about Sloane, who knows that Ramsey wants him to resign - after 24 years with the firm, with two sons to support and no hope of finding another job at 62?

 

 

 

PATTERNS is an intense and riveting play exploring questions which may never be fully answered to everyone’s satisfaction: When corporate and personal values are in conflict, which will hold sway? How much must a person bend before he is broken?

 

 

 

The cast is an excellent ensemble group.  They play off each other’s lines in order to milk meaning, and occasionally humor, from even small moments.  Director Jules Aaron steers the cast with professional acuity and finesse.  Set designer Jeff G. Rack adds to the authenticity of PATTERNS.  The secretarial “underlings” reside in an elevated back part of the stage lightly screened from the audience, while the primary “movers and shakers” are in the forefront of the stage, easily seen and heard, thus making the physical aspects of the stage reflect the philosophical messages in the script. Costume designer Michele Young lends realism to the 1955 ambiance. In fact, the entire production crew help make PATTERNS a powerful statement.

 

 

 

PATTERNS runs to August 23, 2015, at the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Theatre 40 is the professional theater company for Beverly Hills and is located on the campus of Beverly Hills High School with ample parking on site. Show times are Thursday to Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 2 pm.  Tickets are $30.  For reservations, call 310-364-0535 or go online. 

 

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