As the Trafalgar Studios were flogging copies of the script for less than the price of a programme, I thought I’d plump for the script. In the few minutes between taking our seats and the show starting, I had a flick through and was almost immediately unimpressed. Just two people saying the same things, sometimes twice, sometimes three times, sometimes more. By the end of the show, I was won over. Constellations is a rare show. You can’t get a feel for it by reading it through. You have to see it and see the words come to life.
When the same scenario is played out again and again, it is done so in different universes. In one universe, boy proposes to girl and she says no. In another one, boy proposes to girl and she says she has to go, because she’s at work and he’s called in on her in the middle of the working day, but they’ll talk about it tonight. In another one, boy is very nervous and sweaty. In another one, boy proposes and girl says ‘yes’ straight away. But the proposal itself is more or less the same each time in the script.
Louise Brealey, who plays Marianne, and Joe Armstrong, who plays Roland, both do an excellent job, although a couple of punchlines were missed because from where we were sat, Brealey’s voice didn’t quite project all the way up. Armstrong’s facial expressions said as much as his lines did, and added to the humour and the poignancy of the play. There is very little set, just a load of white balloons against the ceiling, and nothing to give an indication of location or time of day. The scene changes are very quick, a bit too quick for me, and meant the play felt very rushed. I understand the need to keep the audience’s attention but it could have slowed down a little. It’s not as if it can’t afford to be less economical with time. We were in the pub well before 9pm.
Trafalgar Studio 1 is a venue with an extremely steep rake, which means there are a lot of stairs to negotiate to get in and out, but it also means there is pretty much an unrestricted view from every seat. Even the tallest of people in the row in front cause no obstruction at all.
I didn’t really understand why a whole load of balloons started falling down and littering the back of the stage towards the end of the show. But as the story went on, I found myself willing the characters to make the right decision. And then I found myself wondering what the ‘right’ decision really is. After all, we can’t predict the future, so we can’t fully predict the consequences of the decisions we make today.
In the end, yes, it’s a good show. Yes, you should see it. It can be deep and philosophical at times but it’s also entertaining. There’s some strong language, so be warned if you find that uncomfortable. Not everything makes sense the first time you hear the speeches, but bear with the play. As it flits across time and space, all becomes clear by the end. Constellations is a deeply moving play.
Review by Luke Sinclair
Constellations is a play about theoretical physics – It’s a play about quantum mechanics, about cosmology. But it’s also a play about bees, and about beekeeping – Constellations is a play about honey; about saying no to Tesco when they offer you a lot of money. It’s a play about death, about dying. Constellations is also about preparing a romantic marriage proposal for someone you love – It’s about ballroom dancing – Specifically, Constellations is a play about the Box Step. It’s about finding cosmology sexy. It’s about small talk and big ideas. It’s about saying goodbye. Constellations is a play about never having to say goodbye.
Running Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Age Restrictions: Ages 14+
Show Opened: 9th July 2015
Booking Until: 31st July 2015
Important Info: There is no interval. Latecomers will not be admitted until a suitable break in the performance.
Evenings: Monday – Saturday 7.30pm
Matinees: Thursday and Saturday 3.00pm