Neurotics pore over events large and small, considering every way that things could have gone differently, and how things might happen in the future.
So in a way, Nick Payne’s two-hander play “Constellations,” now playing at Theatre Nova, felt like familiar territory to me. (Ahem.)
But instead of neurosis, the basis for exploring two romantically linked characters’ possible choices, actions, and responses in a handful of situations is theoretical physics – specifically, the notion of multiverses, where “every decision you’ve ever and never made exists in an unimaginably vast ensemble of parallel universes.” So although we only see about a half dozen interactions play out between two people, over the course of seventy minutes, we see different versions of each one – including one performed entirely in sign language – and no particular take is more “accurate” nor more “real” than any other.
Marianne (Meghan VanArsdalen) is a spunky astrophysicist who works at Cambridge when she meets a sweet, married (except when he’s not) beekeeper named Roland (Forrest Hejkal) at a barbecue – where it’s a clear night. Or it’s raining. The two fall into a relationship, where he cheats on her, or she cheats on him. They meet up again sometime later at a ballroom dance class, in preparation for a wedding – of a friend, or for Roland’s nuptials, or for Marianne’s – and the two end up going out for a drink. In some universes, Roland surprises Marianne at work one day with an endearingly odd proposal that only an apiarist could write. But when Marianne receives a dire diagnosis – or the “all clear” – she and Roland end up facing hard choices of another kind. Continue reading