With Constellations, you get more than the play blurb promises. Described as “One relationship. Infinite possibilities. Quantum multiverse theory, love and honey”, it actually feels like something Shakespeare may have penned if he was a modern day playwright.
It is suppose to be a play that emphasises free will and friendship. For me personally, although it did give a real sense of friendship (or even more), the free will element was actually rather disproved by the multiverses the characters found themselves in, as the scenarios where always similar even though there were role reversals and slightly different nuances at play. Although love is the theme that strings the multiple scenarios together across the multiverses, there is a real, almost tangible, sadness that grabbed me and became my constant companion throughout the play. When glancing at the faces of my fellow patrons, the thought crossed my mind that that sadness which hits you so unexpectedly can perhaps be a little too much to handle for an unsuspecting person who walked in with the idea that they were going to witness something light and serendipitous.
However, sometimes sad can be beautiful. When that beauty hits you full force, the memory, once the bruise from the blow has healed, is something quite precious. This is what Constellations as a play is, something quite precious. The story penned by modern day Shakespeare, Nick Paine, is brought to life in a beautifully designed set under the amazing direction of Alan Swerdlow, with the aid of the talented Janna Ramos-Violante (Marianne) and Ashley Dowd (Roland). Although both performers are brilliant, in what is best described as abstract art brought to life on stage, Janna deserves a special mention. She was absolutely spectacular in the way she not only portrayed Marianne, but actually embodied her so fully that you looked past the actress and in the end just saw “the art”.
This may be higher grade theatre, and perhaps more abstract than the average theatre lover’s night out choice, but sometimes we all need to be challenged to step out of our safe, just-average theatre box. What better place to do that than from somewhere else, out there, in the multiple Constellations?
Constellations will challenge your perspective at Theatre on the Bay until 11 October. Booking via Computicket.
Scene it by Barbara Loots