‘Constellations’ explores stages of romance and fate through string theory

September 12, 2016

Hannah Harvey

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     Although poignant and thought-provoking, theoretical physics is not typically associated with romance.

     The topics of romance, communication and the emotional devastation associated with different fates are explored in Nick Payne’s “Constellations,” now showing at TheatreWorks Thursday-Saturday until Sept. 25.

     The play, directed by Joye Cooke-Levy, is free to students with a valid ID.

     “Constellations” is set in England, although the exact city is unknown. The play centers on two characters, Roland (Patrick Toon), a beekeeper, and Marianne (Carly Cornelius), a theoretical physicist studying space at Cambridge University.

     String theory is a prominent theme throughout the play, as the creatively woven plot examines possible alternatives to the decisions that the two lovers make throughout their relationship.

     The plot goes back and forth between flashbacks and multiple scenes involving the same conversation, but is conveyed in different ways emotionally.

     The stage resembled a honey comb, and multi-colored lights flickered on and off throughout. The simplistic set involved minimal props with only the use of a blank piece of paper, a ring and a brown cardigan.

     Lighting was a large aspect of the play, guiding the audience through time shifts and emotional conflict using colored spotlights. Serious and devastating events were dimly lit contrasted by the brighter highlights in the couple’s relationship.

     The play had heartbreaking moments throughout, with characters contemplating all emotional reactions, but there were plenty of laughs as well, especially during Marianne’s colorful jokes and dialogue.

     The beautiful portrayals of the characters evoked an array of emotion from the audience. Cornelius’s rendition of the intelligent and witty Marianne brought laughter to the audience, but ultimately she brought a great sadness when the audience learns her fate.

     Cornelius drew the audience in with her movements, making great use of the limited stage space. The character Marianne was relatable in her awkward situations, such as when she makes the fi rst move on Roland.

     The audience felt her anxiety when she talks to Roland and then in his cold responses.

     Toon served an excellent Roland with his open movements and his interactions with Marianne and the space. His movements, like Cornelius’s, conveyed his feelings as he reacted to different scenarios.

     The only movement that estranged the audience was during scene transitions, as the actors would spin across the stage. This appeared as an unnatural, stylized movement that could have been easily replaced with a more natural movement.

     Also, when one of the characters falls ill, it is difficult to differentiate when they were healthy versus ill as there are no indications to the effects of the illness in the costuming of the character.

     The production could have been improved if this confusion had been considered.

     Even taking these into account, “Constellations” is a beautiful production full of light emotion and considers the more difficult concepts like string theory and love.

     If you are interested in seeing a TheatreWorks play this semester, this is the one to see. You do not have to understand quantum mechanics or string theory to understand how human emotion and regret can influence decision making in different aspects of your life.

     Tickets are free to students with a free to students with a valid ID and can be booked at theatreworkscs.com.