The Choices We Make: Constellations Review

Our lives consist of multitudes of choices every single day — the idea that every decision caused another split in the timelines and played out in multiple tellings of the same basic design, all with slight variations of course. There have been various movies and plays that address this topic such examples include Mr. Nobody, Groundhog Day, even the new Black Mirror film Bandersnatch. Constellations by Nick Payne is one of those stories, about how the slightest difference in a conversation can change a lifetime. The play first premiered in London at the Royal Court Theatre in January of 2012. Three years after having received positive feedback and winning the best play category at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards it moved to Broadway. Premiering at the Manhattan Theatre Club on January 13th, 2015 to positive reviews it has been premiered at multiple locations across the United States.
Constellations follows the story of two lovers Roland, a beekeeper, and Marianne, a cosmologist. We begin where they begin and see the multiple meetings of these two. Every iteration of this first meeting is short and all with the slightest changes. Almost as if someone has reset the show over and over. A little confusing at first the reader or audience member will soon find a rhythm that allows you to follow quickly.
Their first meeting at a barbecue eventually ends in a successful courting between the two. We are then shown them living together and the conversation that leads to the demise of a relationship. We see what happens when Roland and Marianne both reveal different infidelity’s through various timelines. The couple breaks up and is apart until their next encounter at a dance class. We are taken through different versions of this conversation ultimately ending in the to reuniting and getting married.
Through the entirety of the play we have seen snippets of seemingly nonsense conversations. Marianne speaks cryptically in these cutaways from the narrative, and we are left with only a wondering thought as the main story resumes. After their marriage, we begin to learn the truths behind these odd pieces of dialogue. Marianne is suffering from cancer, and it is affecting her mental faculties and most importantly her ability to speak.
This leads to the most extended scene in the entire show where we see all the snippets glued together to form one coherent scene between the two. Marianne eventually decides on assisted suicide abroad, and the show ends with a flashback to the two’s rekindling at the dance class.
Though there is a tragic end for our main characters, the show brings warmth to the sadness. The telling of different versions seems to satisfy our many desires as an audience. We are not left wanting another end because we still receive the many endings that we want. A cop-out perhaps, but those who believe that are the ones who also hated the ending to LA LA Land.
This play is worth the read, and if you get the chance to see it done professionally, I highly recommend it. My first experience seeing this show was at the premiere at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. The show was beautifully done, and the acting was top tier. At least one of your many lives deserves to see it make it this one.

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