REVIEW: Constellations, Trafalgar Studios ✭✭✭✭✭

The ROyal Court production of Constellations now playing at the Trafalgar Studios
Joe Armstrong as Roland and Louise Brealey as Marianne. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Trafalgar Studios 1
14th July 2015
5 Stars
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I approached Constellations with some reservation. I’d read my colleagues 5 star review of the play on Broadway featuring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson. An intriguing review, that had me wondering how any play might earn such lavish praise from a tough critic.

Arriving early and reading the programme notes from Professor Michael Duff, I wondered if I was indeed about to see the same show. His indecipherable explanation of parallel universes baffled me and made me wonder if I would understand what I was about to see. I need not have feared.

Constellations is a 75 minute jewel of a play. It is a play about things that happen, might happen and could happen – just like life. In the same way that the film Sliding Doors charts the if/then conundrum of what happens if you turn left rather than turning right, Constellations looks at one relationship as it exists over several parallel realities. Those of you who enjoy shows like Stargate or Star Trek will find this a much more grounded and real version of storylines seen in good quality sci-fi.

Joe Armstrong (Roland) and Louise Brearley (Marianne) deliver astonishing performances that were intensely moving and at times very funny. The sheer skill involved in keeping these characters alive in different realities with all of the subtle differences and nuances involved, turning a character on a dime, often in a split second, shows their incredible skill and their performances alone would earn this show a five star review.

Having seen a copy of the script by Nick Payne, you come to realise just how much this production turns on the skill of not only its actors, but of Director Michael Longhurst, Designer Tom Scutt and Lighting Designer Lee Curran. This quartet of creative together with Armstrong and Brearley combine to make Constellations an incredible theatrical experience. The black onyx hexagonally tiled floor and dreamlike balloons floating above head make this a dream-like state that perfectly suits Payne’s writing.

For Constellations is not a traditional structured narrative, scenes vary in length from just a few seconds to several minutes. These two characters find each other in each universe and they keep finding each other.

It’s very hard to improve upon Stephen’s comments about the play in his review so I won’t try. All I can say is that you should take the brief opportunity that is now available to go to Trafalgar Studios to see Constellations while you can.

Constellations runs at Trafalgar Studios until 1st August 2015

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