Links to the different times
we have performed this show:

1981 1992 2007 2014



The opening scene is laid at "Castle Bunthorne," where Bunthorne, aesthetic poet, is explaining to twenty love-sick maidens the mysteries of love, which, he asserts, can be cured by proper medical treatment. They listen to him with adoration, but he remains insensible to their passion. He loves Patience, they declare.
Patience, a simple dairy-maid, has never loved anyone except an aunt, and learns that true love must be "utter unselfishness." The previous year the officers of a regiment of Dragoon Guards, whose colonel now introduces himself and them in a rollicking, boastful song, has been much beloved by the twenty maidens, but now they are accorded a different welcome. Bunthorne has "idealised them" and "their eyes are opened." When alone, he admits being a sham -- only feigning aestheticism to gain admiration.

Patience remembers a boy who was her child-companion, and when Archibald Grosvenor appears she discovers it is he. They love each other, but Patience, in the belief that true love is "utter unselfishness," thinks she cannot marry one so perfect.

Bunthorne, returning, has decided to put himself up to be raffled for, and just as the lot is to be drawn, Patience in her "utter unselfishness" says that she will marry him because "she detests him so."

The disappointed maidens then return to the Dragoons, but when they see Archibald Grosvenor, immediately transfer their affections to him because "he is aesthetic!" Bunthorne is jealous, and the Dragoons disgusted.

ACT II - A "Rural Glade." The unattractive Jane bewails the lot of maidens who have been in that state too long. Grosvenor is now adored by all the maidens. He is somewhat annoyed by their attentions for they have followed him since Monday. He pleads for "the usual half holiday on Saturday." Patience, meanwhile, muses upon love. Bunthorne, deserted and consumed by jealousy, has still one faithful admirer -- the portly Lady Jane, whose charms decrease as her size increases. She implores him not to wait too long, but Bunthorne is determined to beat Grosvenor on his own ground.
At last the rival poets meet. Bunthorne threatens to "curse" Archibald unless he consents to cut his hair and become quite commonplace. Grosvenor outwardly appalled, but secretly relieved, consents to become an "every day young man".

Now that Bunthorne is happy, Patience, in her "utter unselfishness," breaks her engagement. Upon Archibald Grosvenor's return, in a tweed suit, she realizes that since he is now a commonplace young man, she can marry him.

Bunthorne finds that the twenty love-sick maidens have returned to their soldier-lovers. He then decides to console himself with the portly Lady Jane. But the Duke of Dunstable, desirous of marrying a plain woman, has already claimed Lady Jane, so Bunthorne is left without a bride!


More Information:

The sixth G&S collaboration was "Patience", or "Bunthorne's Bride". Patience opened on April 23, 1881 at the Opera Comique and ran for 578 performances, moving on October 10, 1881 to D'Oyly Carte's new theatre, the Savoy, the first theatre in the world to be lit entirely by electric lights.

Patience satirizes the "aesthetic craze" of the 1870's and '80s, when the output of poets, composers, painters and designers of all kinds was indeed prolific - but, some argued, empty and self-indulgent. This artistic movement was so popular, and also so easy to ridicule as a meaningless fad, that it made Patience a big hit. The topical nature of the story may make Patience somewhat less accessible to some modern audiences, and G&S fans tend to have strong feelings one way or the other about Patience.

All the well-born young ladies in the village, rapturously caught up in aestheticism, are in love with two contrasting aesthetic poets - a "fleshy" poet and an "idyllic" poet. But the poets are both in love with Patience, the simple village milkmaid, who cares nothing for poetry. Patience learns that true love must be completely unselfish--it must wither and sting and burn! The girls' military suitors don't see the point to aesthetics, but they decide to give it a try to win the women's hearts. It is touch and go for awhile, but everyone ends up with a suitable partner, even if it is only a tulip or lily.