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a Drama
by Nick Payne

COMPANY : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
ID# 5021

SHOWING : January 27, 2017 - February 26, 2017



One Relationship. Infinite Possibilities.

Nick Payne’s "Constellations" is a romantic comedy mapping the relationship between a quantum physicist (Marianne), and a beekeeper (Roland), from their first meeting, to their eventual parting. Marianne’s work has her exploring the theory of the Multiverse, the possibility that there are an infinite number of universes with sometimes only slight differences to our own. The play’s structure reflects this as the audience sees several different versions of each scene played out, sometimes successfully for Marianne and Roland and sometimes not so successfully, depending on the choices they make.

“The most sophisticated date play Broadway has seen! Sexy, sophisticated, and gorgeous.” – The New York Times

“A singular astonishment!” – The New Yorker

Director Justin Anderson
Marianne Bethany Irby
Rodney Enoch King
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A Failed Acting Exercise
by playgoer
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Nick Payne’s "Constellations" builds itself on the idea of multiverses -- multiple, concurrent universes of infinite possibilities. In it, we see Marianne (Bethany Irby) and Rodney (Enoch King) play out some of the same moments in their lives, with different attitudes and different outcomes. It’s alternately repetitive and confusing.

To have it all make sense, the performers need to show amazing chemistry and flip personas in the blink of an eye. That doesn’t occur here. Ms. Irby shows a variety of personas, but she’s up against Mr. King, who doesn’t change character much or show any chemistry with Ms. Irby up until the point Rodney is successfully proposing to Marianne. (And we see several non-successful attempts first.) The script doesn’t clearly distinguish the linkage between moments, so it isn’t clear if we are supposed to be seeing separate threads of the relationship through sequences of moments (meeting, moving in together, splitting apart, proposing, a health scare, and ballroom dance lessons). There’s too much going on in the almost-repeated, short scenes for the audience to attempt to keep track of which moments would mesh together to form a story with a coherent set of steps.

The physical production is splendid. The set by Moriah and Isabel Curley-Clay centers on a two-tiered wood hexagon with benches on two sides with a matching hexagon above, strung with wires in a random pattern. Surrounding the hexagon are strands of wire strung with large metal washers and a cyclorama in the background, with a subtly reflective black band around the bottom. Add in Mary Parker’s lovely lighting effects, Bobby Johnston’s subtle projections, and Rob Brooksher’s evocative sound design and the audience is transported to a realm in the middle of a sky of constellations.

Justin Anderson’s blocking on this set is problematic. Many scenes are played as if in the round, with one character’s back to the majority of the audience for long periods. The two aisles in the audience are used as characters start to exit (then return), while the wings are almost never used by the actors. Sightlines are not great for these scenes. There’s a lot of extraneous movement of the actors walking around the perimeter of the hexagon. It all seems meant to be stylish, but it comes across more as stagey.

Costumes, by the Curley-Clay sisters, are remarkable only in their apparent warmth, to judge by the sweat pouring from Mr. King’s face. The layered look would suggest a fall or spring wardrobe, although the script has little reference to season, other than the initial meeting of Marianne and Rodney occurring at a rainy outdoor barbecue.

The play takes place in England, with Brad Brinkley functioning as dialect coach and Ruthanne Garrett functioning as British sign language coach (for one repeated scene done in sign language the second time around). The accents are all right, I suppose, but the frequent F-bombs coming out of Ms. Irby’s mouth do not sound organic to her speech patterns or bearing.

While both characters are meant to age a bit during the show, there’s no suggestion of that in the acting. In fact, I thought Rodney might be regressing to an elementary school show-and-tell presentation during one of his early proposals. There’s little sense of growth in the characters as they navigate through their lives. It’s almost as if the characters are as unchanging as the stars in a night sky, glimmering above in the identical configurations as myriads of alternative timelines take place beneath them. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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