Constellations opened at the Rep Studio this weekend. It may not be for everyone but much of it is fascinating.
Theater has had pick-your-ending plays for quite a while. Constellations offers a variety of things that could happen over a story arc, from beginning to end. There’s no choosing on the part of the audience, just variations flashing by. This all began with author Nick Payne’s thinking about quantum multiverses, something that takes the idea of multiple universes and rearranges it, sort of. (For a better explanation, try this link.) And then he decided to introduce an astrophysicist to a beekeeper. Infinite universes vs. small contained ones, so to speak.
It’s a love story that takes place in London. She’s the astrophysicist and he’s a freelance beekeeper and honey seller. They are Ellen Adair and Eric Gilde, in a pas de deux of very impressive portions. One scene is so strong that it’s done solely in sign language. It’s not giving away a great deal to say that she becomes seriously ill, and the scenes involving that are particularly well rendered by both Adair and Gilde. Whether or not one agrees with Payne’s approach to the construction of the play, his characters’ handling of the situation via his dialogue is impressively spot-on realistic.
A deceptively simple set from Bill Clarke is quite wonderful, and Rusty Wandall’s sound design and original music is noticeably excellent. Steven Woolf directed Constellations, and overall got it just right. Just right.
Prepare to perhaps be confused by the presentation of the story, which gives several versions of each scene, and shifts back and forth in time. But prepare also for some excellent work.
One act, no intermission.
through February 5
The Studio at Repertory Theatre St. Louis
Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts
130 Edgar Rd., Webster Groves