Constellations (Trafalgar Studios, 30th July 2015)
With a set and concept this beautiful, it was almost impossible to live up to my expectations. The concept is almost inperceptable - The play lives within the belief of the quantum multiverse theory - creating and re-creating the infinite possibilities of a relationship between Roland, a bee keeper, and Marianne, a scientist. From reviews, this was described as a 'rom-com', and I had imagined something along the lines of The Time-Travellers Wife (Audrey Niffeneger). The set, designed by Tom Scutt, also evoked this perception, with lit up balloons decorating the stage to signify the infinite universes.
Nevertheless, I was unfortunately dissapointed by Nick Payne's Constellations. This was not due to the individual performances by Louise Brealey and Joe Armstrong, who were flawless in their ability to create characters which differed mildly in their nuances and personalities between universes, changing within a second. However, I felt their lack of chemistry created a challenge for the expectations of empathy, as the audience do not see any situation in which they adore each other, but instead each scene is punctuated by an awkward silence. Yet what dissapointed me was the inability to live up to the beautiful concept. Each scene, repeated around four times, offered an ill-matched couple in horribly strained conversations that lost their shock-factor the first time we viewed it. What I felt was missing was the balance of real life - or perhaps that is my naivety. If the possiblities are infinite, why not show the moments of beauty? For instance, within the plentitude of uncomfortable proposals, even the 'happy ending' wasn't convincingly lovingly accepted.
Despite these flaws, the possibilities of 'infinite' seemed captured entirely within one devestating scene, played out entirely in sign language. These possiblities were also memorably encompassed visually towards the end of the play by falling balloons, an inevitable death in many of Marianne's universes. A heart breaking finale, which after leaving the theatre, echoed in my head and left me questioning whether any choice we make is in fact ours to choose, or whether we are in fact just one simple balloon in a web of existence, aimlessly following a path until our balloon floats gracefully to its demise. As you can see from this post-show wondering, Although Constellations may have had some humour, the description 'rom com' is not a fitting one.