“The Impossibility of Now” is a show that’s in love with the English language.
From the opening scene, to the final minutes “Now” engages the audience with an array of rich subtextual diction, and a story that serves as one big metaphor; while asking the question ‘What would you do, if suddenly all your memories were gone?’
That’s the hook of “The Impossibility of Now” - a Michigan premiere that’s currently playing at the Tipping Point Theatre in Northville, MI - in which Carl (Dave Davies) has to reestablish his place in the world after a freak accident involving a utility pole leaves him with amnesia. This doesn’t bode well for his wife, Miranda (Julia Glander) who was planning on leaving him for a lustful dentist (Glander’s real-life husband, Alex Leydenfrost) and now is forced to take care of him.
And so, like a giant puzzle (which reflects the crafty set design by Moníka Essen), piece by piece we must try to comprehend how things got to where they are. Granted, the action is limited, but the intertwining relationships developed between the trio of characters, combined with their own unique self discoveries is enough to keep your mind on edge from start to finish.
A good chunk of that self discovery pertains to Carl, prior to his injury, as a science-fiction author who published scholarly articles regarding space; an important memory that could be the key to gaining his life back. His wife Miranda teaches poetry at a local university and is left to solve her ever-growing marital dilemma: to abandon the failing relationship with the husband she knew before the accident, or try to build a new relationship with a husband that has been completely transformed by his trauma. That’s a lot to ingest in the plays first half-hour, but thanks to a conversation of witty banter, solid staging, and a script (written by renowned playwright Y. York) that has a keen sense of awareness regarding relationships, “Now” transitions very smoothly between each intersecting plot, despite not being as cohesive as you’d might expect. This is a strange and off-beat story, and the direction seems to reflect that.
On paper, you can tell the show reads exceptionally, but at certain instances it doesn’t always translate to the results I was craving: mainly involving the affair between Miranda and Anthony not being as strong conversationally in comparison to the dialogue with her husband, giving the notion that some of those scenes were tacked on without fully realizing their purpose.
Regardless of minor plotting issues, York gives us plenty to root for. Aside from Davis owning the role of Carl, perfectly conveying the balance of a man who must fall in love with the world (and his wife) again, the most effective creative component of the show lies in the use of projections. Director Frannie Shepherd-Bates, along with fellow designer Essen, take Carl’s soul and mind quite literally, visually representing his vocabulary with an accompanying visual aesthetic that helps the audience engage with each word he savors.
For example, Carl might shout the word “indifference” or “array” and that phrase will stick to the blank canvas like glue, likewise locations like “house” or “dentist” will also plaster on screen, helping move the audience from one locale to the other. It’s a technique that (we hope) will be the trigger to jolt Carl’s life back to the way it was. But you almost don’t want it too, especially when Miranda is constantly saying how much “happier” he is, proving his new perspective “in the now” is the most alive he’s ever felt: there’s a meaty metaphor for you. This is all punctuated with a fun costume design by Shelby Newport that slips in subtle, character-enhancing changes which blend in so well, you almost miss it.
But it’s not just Davis who steals the spotlight, real life couple Glander and Leydenfrost are solid as well. Particularly Glander whose Miranda stands at the epicenter of this entire world, juggling the scope of it all while going through her own trials and tribulations. Equally for Leydenfrost’s Anthony - who is going through a divorce of his own with his wife Angie (though unseen, we feel her presence looming over the affair). While I mentioned that some of those scenes feel somewhat underdeveloped, the actors convey a lively sense of their surroundings (including an afternoon quickie in a dental chair); making for a decent evening of professional theatre in Michigan.
As it generally goes without saying, the path to finding your inner happiness isn’t always an easy road worth taking, and that’s reflected in “The Impossibility of Now,” which, through the commendable performances and articulated script, lends itself well to Tipping Point’s stage. It’s especially gratifying to see a touch of empathy and humanity gracing a theatrical production - and when the play stays zoned in on Miranda and Carl’s building-from-the-ash relationship - this remarkable show leaves you more than satisfied.
If you go:
The Impossibility of Now continues through August 19th
You can purchase tickets by following the link here
All of the above photos courtesy of Tipping Point Theatre