CONSTELLATIONS: Drama by Nick Payne. Directed by Robert Kelley. TheatreWorks, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA. www.theatreworks.org or call (650) 463-1960. August 23 – September 17, 2017
Constellations at TheatreWorks a “what if” universe. Rating:
Constellations received appreciative applause but not the usual standing ovation for a Robert Kelley directed play. The hype surrounding the play insists that Nick Payne is the new shining star of intellectual theatre and according to Charles Spencer’s review (London Telegraph) of the world premiere at the Royal Court in 2012 it “can stand comparison with Tom Stoppard, Michael Frayn and Caryl Churchill.” Similar accolades followed the play to Broadway and Los Angeles.
Payne has taken a simple boy meets girl love story and intertwines it with the concept of multiverse by writing short scenes of the same event with emphasis of what might had been if the meeting took place in another universe. Knowledge of the string theory is not necessary to appreciate TheatreWork’s staging since we all may have wondered “what if” to many situations.
Payne’s words require top-notch acting and swift changes in demeanor to convey these rapid shifts that reflect different universes. In this two hander Marianne (Carie Kawa) an intellectual cosmologist (one who studies of the origin, evolution, and eventual fate of the universe) meets Roland (Robert Gilbert) an attractive beekeeper and the possibility of love and/or friendship is explored.
The variations within the relationship are a marvel and Payne’s superb ability to create dialog for each shift in each individual universe within the “multiverse” is unique. Gilbert and Kawa have great charisma and their delivery appropriately evokes the change in their verbal tone and bodily demeanor. Some lines do not cross the footlights while others are joy to hear. Gilbert’s multiple descriptions of the working relationships within a beehive as he offers Marianne an engagement ring is a memorable highlight.
There is serious inevitability in some scenes that balance the plentiful humor and the inevitable adds a dark tone to the final scenes. The staging is meretricious with a partial geodesic type dome with red and blue lights blinking on and off. This staging may be over expansive yet at the same time be an appropriate reflection of the universe.
The play runs a scant 70 minutes and is well worth a trip to Silicon Valley TheatreWorks to determine for yourself the validity of the hype in your present universe.
CAST: Robert Gilbert as Roland; Carie Kawa as Marianne
PRODUCTION TEAM: Directed by Robert Kelley; Scenic Designer Andrea Bechert; Costume Designer Jill Bowers; Lighting Designer Steven B. Mannshardt; Associate Lighting Designer/Digital Visualization Z. William Bakal; Composer/Sound Designer Cliff Caruthers; Dialect Coach Kimberly Mohne Hill; British Sign Language Coach Kalen Feeney; Stage Manager Randall K. Lum.
Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.
Cosmologist Marianne (Carie Kawa) and beekeeper Roland (Robert Gilbert) explore the ever-changing mystery of “what ifs” in the regional premiere of Constellations presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, August 23-September 17 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Photo credit: Kevin Berne