Review: Constellations

Emma Palmer and Sam O’Sullivan Photo: Gez Xavier Mansfield

Emma Palmer and Sam O’Sullivan Photo: Gez Xavier Mansfield

“Think of a guitar string that has been tuned by stretching the string under tension across the guitar. Depending on how the string is plucked and how much tension is in the string, different musical notes will be created by the string.”  

Have you ever wondered what might have happened if things had just played out a little differently? What if you had missed the bus that day? What if you had made a different choice?

The idea of the ‘road not taken’, alternative versions of our lives, has been a popular artistic theme explored in books, films and even comic books. Now, Constellations, a stimulating and challenging production at the Eternity Playhouse, explores this theme of a multiverse as it weaves an emotional tapestry from the infinite possibilities of a single relationship in the lives of two characters.

The one-hour Darlinghurst Theatre Company production presents alternate versions of the relationship of physicist Marianne and beekeeper Roland. Emma Palmer and Sam O’Sullivan give finely calibrated performances in this intense two-hander under the excellent direction of Anthony Skuse.

The play’s underlying concept is the scientific string theory,  also known as the theory of everything. Scenes loop in and around each other as various scenarios play out in an interlocking range of parallel universes challenging the audience to stay alert and imaginative.

Skuse said he was thrilled to bring this production to Sydney for the first time before it premieres on Broadway in January starring Oscar-nominated actor, Jake Gyllenhaal. “The play’s structure is like a musical suite or a fugue; two characters dance around various moments in their relationship. Each moment is played with differing outcomes and the cumulative effect is very moving,” he said.

Constellations opened at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 2012 to rave reviews before moving to the West-End later that year. It won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Play, making Payne the youngest playwright to win the award at 29.

This is not a play for a lazy audience but the effort is worth it.

Constellations plays at the Eternity Playhouse, 39 Burton Street Darlinghurst, until September 7. Book on or 02 8356 9987.

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