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Print Version

By Nick Payne
Directed by Rachel Lenart

at Circa Two, Wellington
From 26 Jul 2014 to 23 Aug 2014

Reviewed by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media], 29 Jul 2014

Constellations, a 70-minute play by a thirty year-old Englishman, has been a success wherever it has been produced all over the world. One English reviewer wrote that his play “can stand comparison with Tom Stoppard, Michael Frayn and Caryl Churchill.” Heady praise indeed. 

The plot is both simple and complex. It starts at an ordinary barbecue where Marianne meets Roland. He is an apiarist and she a quantum physicist. The meeting abruptly ends there but it also continues as we are given glimpses of some of the other scenarios that can occur in the infinite possibilities of existence in a parallel universe.

Marianne says “In the quantum multiverse, every choice, every decision you've ever made and never made exists in an unimaginably vast ensemble of parallel universes.”  You'll be surprised and amused by Roland's reply. The play is often very funny.  

Will there be a next meeting? Will his marriage be a barrier to romance? Will former lovers and affairs lead to a break-up? Will love triumph? But there is much more to the play than just another romance. 

In short Constellations has it both ways. We follow a romance developing into a lasting relationship and while doing so we come to acknowledge that, as director Rachel Lenart says in a programme note, “Standing in the middle of infinity, really it is the minutiae that matters”.

And it is in the minutiae of the relationship that Erin Banks and Richard Dey reveal all the possible (that we are allowed to see) complex emotional subtleties and facets of two people's developing relationship. Their very fine performances move with lightening speed from light to dark with a deftness that is always startling and moving. It must also be hell to memorise. 

They are given superior support from composer Tane Upjohn-Beaton whose music combined with Lauren Stewart's setting of two stylish benches and numerous naked light bulbs and a black backdrop fretted with golden hexagons complement the play's themes perfectly in Rachel Lenart's elegant production of this fascinating play.
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See also reviews by:
 John Smythe