Review of Constellations
By Nick Payne
Directed by Juliet Noonan

For tickets & schedule:
6th Street Playhouse
Santa Rosa, CA
Tickets: $25-28, $22-25 Senior 62+, $18 Under 30

RUN: September 8 – 24, 2017
RATING: 4 of 5 stars

(September 17, 2017)

Constellations - 6th Street Playhouse

Marianne (Melissa Claire) and Roland (Jared Wright) comfort each other. Photo by Eric Chazankin.

Think back to the last time you made a decision, perhaps one where either outcome would have made a significant difference in your life. What if you were able to see the results of choosing an alternate path? It could be a matter of having chocolate ice cream over lemon sorbet for dessert, or it might lead to an entirely unique story with new relationships and outcomes. According to string theory, there may be a multiverse where each possibility exists, layered in a glorious tapestry of parallel universes. The structure of Constellations explores what it would be like to observe this phenomenon in action.

Step inside a swirling galaxy of lights by Ryan Severt and Conor Woods, lending a somber, contemplative atmosphere to 6th Street Playhouse’s Studio Theatre. This brief, intense play is a roller coaster of emotion; it gathers momentum, leaving the audience breathless by the end, tears forming from the level of raw vulnerability witnessed through Melissa Claire (Marianne) and Jared Wright (Roland) who are expertly directed by Juliet Noonan.

The actors move within situations in which multiple outcomes are possible—they begin dating, but say the wrong things and it falls apart, one of them loses interest, or it goes splendidly until he attempts to propose and chokes on his speech. Rather than a linear story, it is more of a waltz, stepping forward, then back, off to the side, and twirling to the beginning space. I felt myself wondering “what will happen this time?” eager to see the next vignette.

Throughout the interchanges, an odd, unexplained moment keeps repeating, as if so weighty that all other universes are drawn to it like gravity. This teasing mystery is slowly unveiled, until it becomes clear why that precise scene is pivotal, and this payoff is what causes the play to have personal depth beyond a technique experiment.

Constellations is a candid glimpse of possibilities that touch our existence, through two extraordinary actors, who take the audience on a journey through the clamor of multiple universes, demonstrating the power of connection and love through tragic circumstances. There will be laughs along the way, awkward dates, and lost opportunities, but through it all they find each other and the strength to eventually let go.