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Monday, November 06, 2017

Constellations at Shadow Theatre... so many possibilities...

I'd heard about Constellations by Nick Payne a few years ago. It's concept was intriguing, multiple iterations of the same scenes, with slight changes to reflect the multiplicity of possibilities. I'm am avid Science Fiction reader, so the idea is one I have seen explored before in books and film, and I liked the idea of exploring that on stage. So when Shadow Theatre announced that it was part of their season, I was happy to get the chance to see it. My sister, who lives in Toronto, saw it at Canadian Stage last year, but wanted to discuss it with me only after I had a chance to see it (so now we are due for a phone chat...). In the wishing for one more multi-verse, I wish I had seen the version she saw too! I think this is the kind of play that would only be enriched by seeing multiple productions...

Anyhow, it's a boy meets girl story, about Marianne the Physicist (Liana Shannon) and Roland the Bee-keeper (Mat Busby). They meet, they flirt, they meet again, they flirt, they fight, they meet again, things happen, and again, and again.  Each time is different. Sometimes subtly so, and sometimes the changes are vast. The idea is that there are an infinite amount of ways that these two lives could intersect and interact. Some details are maintained for coherence, but it is possible to imagine that there are even more options out there. I liked the way director Amy DeFelice jumped from reality to reality - it was clear that we'd shifted but it didn't hold up the flow of the story. I also liked Tessa Stamp's set - scientific, yet abstract, its circles nested and repeated echoing the repetition and cyclical nature of the storytelling. I always enjoy a play with science or math, whether conceptual or concrete, so this was a good one to speak to my brain. I could easily imagine many, many more variations on the themes.

On a more emotional level, it's the kind of play that makes you think about the myriad of choices that we have in our own interactions. If I had been less angry... If I had invited them over... If I had said no... I think on that human level we all realize that our lives could be vastly different if the little choices were changed and added up.

Constellations is at the Varscona Theatre until November 12.
Click here for tickets.

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