What could a theoretical physicist and a beekeeper possibly have in common? In Nick Payne’s two hander Constellations
, your average ‘boy meets girl’ story is blown out of the water.
Payne’s story is set across a multitude of universes with the ‘multi-verse’ theory forming the backbone of the play. The play starts in one universe, where Marianne, a lecturer at Sussex University and Roland, a beekeeper, meet.
Although some of the scientific ideas are described by Marianne, Payne’s research is well incorporated into the overall plot, unlike in Tom Stoppard’s recent play ‘The Hard Problem
’. Here, Payne wittily and skilfully uses the science to suggest how life is all about being in the moment and the choices we make throughout.
Some scenes are repeated with alterations, transporting the audience from one universe to another. As we watch Marianne and Roland’s behaviour change across various universes, the play makes us question how another version of ‘ourselves’ may be acting in another universe.
It would be difficult to label the play as ‘a dark comedy’ but it can feel like that at times, with rich humour battling against the physical and mental suffering endured by Marianne. Michael Longhurst’s stripped-back staging ensures that there is nowhere for the actors to hide - allowing the emotions created by the meaningful language to take centre-stage.
Louise Brealey (Sherlock
) plays a brainy yet overwrought Marianne, with a need to always listen to a second voice: finding that in online forums, science or Roland. Her heart-warming performance is sprung from an authentic and truthful connection with Payne’s dialogue. Joe Armstrong (Happy Valley
) is a down-to-earth Roland, with his passion for bees carving his path in life. Armstrong’s carefully chosen characteristics means that on his first appearance he seems to be the…