By Nolan P. Smith
(Victorville)– I had the opportunity to watch a brand new play, written and directed by Michael Barrett. Barrett is a name well known in the theater community here in the High Desert, as well as across the Inland Empire. Barrett’s original play, Never Gone, is an emotional, compelling look at a man’s life that is stricken with pain and loss.
From Stage Crafters Productions, the play focuses on down on his luck Harry Alderton, with glimpses at the various stages of his life. From his youth (Riley Ehart) to his adulthood (Michael Barrett) to his current, aging self (Bruce Barrymore), we see a man tortured by the past. With no healthy way to cope, he turns to drinking. When Harry falls asleep, he is visited by his deceased wife Marie (Ashley Patterson). She delivers ominous messages for her love and flashbacks from their childhood, with young Marie played by Angelina Eudy.
Harry’s estranged daughter Linda (Jennifer Marien) comes to visit with her fiancé George (Lance Odom). This is when we see how a broken family struggles to come together. But not all is right in the world, as a mysterious figure known as Clark (Nicholas Dye) continues to try and visit Harry for unknown reasons. How does a broken, isolated man reconnect with his life and make amends of the past? The set design looked excellent and practical, perfect for the quaint theater at the High Desert Center for the Arts.
The cast is fantastic, as Barrymore resonates with the role of the man who has lost everything, some by the way he chose to react to life, and some by how life takes relentlessly. Barrett nails the emotional trauma Harry endures, with a hospital scene that will hit close to home to anyone who has ever lost someone. Patterson is impressive as the love of Harry’s life: beautiful, calm, yet evokes so much emotion in her scenes. Marien and Odom are fantastic as well, as they play off Barrymore so well, creating a fascinating dynamic. Dye is the inevitable, and plays the part of the ominous Clark perfectly. The young actors Ehart and Eudy do a terrific job as well in flashbacks, showing where the relationship between Harry and Marie began.
Never Gone reminded me why I love the theater so much. An emotional tale of love, loss, and what happens when you let the past control your present and future. Barrett pens and directs a strong piece, one that will strike a chord with anyone that has suffered a loss of a loved one. I look forward to more original works from Barrett and highly recommend you make time to check it out. Never Gone will be closing next weekend, with shows on August 16th, 17th and 18th. Visit https://www.stagecraftersproductions.com/ for more information and tickets.