By John Lyle Belden
Indy theatre-goers may remember Stageworthy Productions, which had last performed in 2017 at Broadway United Methodist Church. However, a fire in the church’s Community Room late that year destroyed most of SWP’s property.
Aside from fire recovery, the events of recent years forced a lot of starting over for everyone. Seeking a new home for Stageworthy, Artistic Director John Kastner was put in touch with Deb Kent and Jamie Willis of Gallery of Homes Real Estate in the Irvington community of Indianapolis’ eastside. They found him a space near their office, a former garage at 5635 Bonna Ave., which Kastner and friends (SWP is all-volunteer) turned into a nice black-box theatre space.
Dubbed the Stage Door Theater, it hosted SWP’s revival with the Indiana premiere of another story of starting over, “The Impossibility of Now,” through the end of July. This romantic comedy by Y. York is the story of a writer, Carl (played by Larry Adams), who recovers from a coma with no memory of his prior life. His wife, Miranda (Alyssa Johnson), is astonished to find as he recovers bits and pieces of the past, and relearns words, he is completely happy and cheerful. This is far different from the bitter “soul-sucking” man she was about to leave, which complicates her plan to move out and live with her lover, Anthony (Jaime Johnson), a children’s dentist.
Adams practically glows expressing Carl’s joy at every word he rediscovers, envisioning them hanging in the air or falling like snowflakes. He even savors the word “savor.” Negative words seem to physically hurt, though. His rebooted brain confuses memories with movie scenes. Also, stories told him by people whose biographies he wrote come back to him like they are his own experiences. Yet the old Carl is a stranger to him, even when he brings himself to read his old journals. He even takes an odd delight at a negative review to one of his books.
Alyssa Johnson makes Miranda surprisingly sympathetic for a woman who was about to leave her husband, as we see her personal insecurities and how she is caught in the middle of what had felt like an easy decision, suddenly vastly complicated. She’s not heartless, so she seeks a way to true happiness, even if it means breaking a vow.
Meanwhile, Jaime Johnson gives Anthony a gentle descent from anxious and impatient, to kind of a jerk, to total jerkdom. (However, in this play, the dentist isn’t eaten by a plant.)
Hopefully another stage will host this easily-produced charmer. Until then, I’ll note the plot’s conclusion is a statement on the importance of mental health and being willing to ask for help. Carl has been given a second chance in more ways than one, but it shouldn’t have to take a major injury to kickstart your happiness.
Speaking of new chances, Kastner says he can use any and all assistance as he works on bringing the next production to Stage Door. Plans are for this to be a resource not only for SWP, but also to the Irvington community. At stageworthy.org, find Kastner’s address and email, as well as online forms to donate or volunteer.