ONCE, some 40-odd years ago I was stopped on a red traffic light as I was passing through Evesham – an army-style open topped jeep came through the other way. Driving it was a strawberry blonde with big eyes, which caught mine, just for an instant and we smiled ever so briefly. Couldn’t have been more than a ten-second meeting and one I had forgotten – until seeing the Crescent’s opening night of Constellations.
Nick Payne’s’ drama is set in – well actually it isn’t exactly set in any one place or time zone but happens on multi-platforms across a series of parallel universes.
It is a series of ‘what ifs’ – what if our company of two, Quantum Cosmologist Marianne and Beekeeper Roland meet at a party – or not? Hit it off or not? Go back to his or not? Go back to hers or not? Sleep together or not? Spend the rest of their days together or not?
Do we care? Oh yes!
I’m not going to give you any spoilers or answers here – then again maybe there aren’t any?
Perhaps I never went to see it at all? Maybe we living in a universe that exists on the head of a pin? Maybe in another a universe I met jeep-lady and spent my days with her.
Such was the impact of this production that I pondered what-ifs all the way home and continued to ponder into the early hours.
Undoubtedly Constellations is a very clever play despite being one which could easily make for a boring evening – thankfully Mark Thompson has directed it with obvious love for the text as well as the theme and has added in conjunction with the creative team of Joe Harper and John Gray – a generous dollop of clever sound links and imaginative lighting. The lights above us change colours and patterns like a DNA string or a homage to the voyages of Starship Enterprise.
Robert Laird plays Roland with warmth, sensitivity and believability, Beth Gilbert as Marianne matches him on all counts – they fit together like a pair of perfectly hand made gloves crafted from the finest softest leather.
They tell the story via a wide spectrum of artistic skills and offer up a seamless journey where there are no footprints to follow.
One particular passage is done in sign language – you didn’t need to be a student of BSL to follow it – the expressions on their faces said it all.
The use of dance throughout is yet another way of communicating – here Dance Instructor Jo Thackwray uses Beth’s dance talents to the fullest whilst working cleverly within Robert’s obvious limitations so that he is always the anchor to her perfect flights and posture.
This is quite a remarkable production in so many ways – without doubt the most original piece of drama I have seen so far this year – I can’t get it out of my head.
Constellations runs at the Crescent until Saturday, May 18. To book tickets or for more information, including times, visit https://www.crescent-theatre.co.uk/theatre-event/?EventID=117132
Review by Euan Rose.