PURE's Constellations dives into the quantum mechanics of coupling

Missed Connections


The headline to a 2002 Onion article says all that you need to know about PURE Theatre's latest production, Constellations: "18-Year-Old Miraculously Finds Soulmate In Hometown". Of course, the headline was written as a gag, one that needs no explanation. However, Nick Payne's Constellations suggests that all kidding aside, it is pretty miraculous that two kids would meet and fall in love and get married, even a pair that has been thrust together by proximity. 

In Constellations, Payne ditches all pretense that a couple are destined to be together, something that poets, playwrights, and prosers have been writing about since the very beginning of storytelling. In the world of this award-winning 2012 play, Payne's two leads, Marianne and Roland, meet for the first time again and again and again across the endless expanse of the multiverse. Over the course of the Constellations' running time, we witness the pair — mind you, they are the only two actors in this play — progress further along in what ultimately becomes a relationship, although we never know for sure which relationship thread we are following. It's a device that is both clever and cold, captivating and confusing, maddening and moving.

All of that said, Payne's Constellations argues that fate plays a role in our lives, at least to a degree. At our core, we are who we are. More importantly, our bodies are what they are. Our genes are a constant in a world of randomness, and death is very much inevitable.

On paper Constellations looks like it could be a challenge for some companies — aside from the high-concept, quantum mechanics set-up, the two actors must continual reenact several scenes and yet add nuances to each attempt. But in the capable hands of director Sharon Graci, the regional debut of this Neil Payne award-winning should be one of the more interesting offerings of the 2015-'16. 

Constellations opens this Fri. April 22 and runs through May 14. For more information, visit PURE Theatre.

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