music / Canberra Symphony Orchestra, ACTEWAGL Llewellyn Three, Llewellyn Theatre, July 18. Reviewed by GRAHAM McDONALD
ENGLISH playwright Nick Payne’s 2012 play, “Constellations” uses language like a composer uses musical notation.
The players bring the work into temporal existence but the writer’s craft is strong on stage.
According to program notes: “[It] is a play about free will and friendship; it’s also about quantum multiverse theory, love and honey.”
“Constellations” depicts multiple possible timelines of a relationship between Marianne (Lexi Sekuless) and Roland (Kristian Jenkins).
A physicist and a beekeeper, they play out pivotal scenes in their many possible lives. Interactions are repeated, varied and even looped, like musical themes. We come to recognise passages and experience both familiarity and surprise as their meanings deepen and change.
The spare and stylish set and lighting designs work seamlessly together. Both use simple, geometric shapes to support changing moods and shifting dimensions.
Sekuless gives a sustained, energetic performance as Marianne. She has a lightness that accentuates the humorous moments and keeps the darker times from descending into ponderous gloom. Jenkins, as Roland, has a solid, earthy presence like the rhythm section of the band. The two actors never crowd each other and play the repeating, unfolding and evolving scenes like musical grooves.
When themes and words repeat, their meanings become blurred. At one point, Marianne says: “If every possible future exists, then the decisions we do and don’t make will determine which of these futures we actually end up experiencing.”
This production decides to be open-hearted and optimistic. It’s a well-crafted, quality realisation of a challenging but thoughtful and funny text.