Venue: Chippen Street Theatre (Chippendale NSW), Aug 23 – Sep 1, 2018
Playwright: Nick Payne
Director: Victor Kalka
Cast: Alice Birbara, Henry Hulme
Image by Omnes Photography
In Nick Payne’s Constellations, parallel universes converge in conventional theatrical time, to tell a simple love story. Moments shared by Marianne and Roland, are presented on stage in multiple contradictory manifestations, toying with ideas that disrupt the linearity of our existence, to imagine a nature that is more complex than the typically singular perspectives of how we experience the world.
Director Victor Kalka places appropriate emphasis on the production’s depiction of time, with precisely calibrated lighting and sound cues (executed by a very diligent stage manager, Christopher Starnawski) that provide absolute clarity to how the plot unfolds. There is however, an unfortunate monotony to proceedings, even though the writing provides ample opportunity for a more playful and variable approach to how each scene is performed. Actor Henry Hulme delivers a sense of authenticity with his understated presence as Roland, but a lack of exuberance keeps us alienated. Alice Birbara’s portrayal of Marianne is more animated and inventive, although a greater exploration into the play’s comedy would provide a more satisfying result.
As individual beings, we have little control over how the planet spins, but to believe that fate is beyond manipulation, is to render humanity meaningless. Even if one thinks that all choices we make are predestined, to absolve oneself of responsibilities, is analogous to giving up on life. It is true that we are but a speck in the great scheme of things, and all our successes and failures are ultimately no more than a question of vanity, but if those ephemeral concerns are all we have that would allow our participation in this time and place, then being human is an indulgence we must engage in, with the utmost relish.