Review: Constellations at The Liverpool Playhouse

Posted on 24 May 2015
By Chris High
  • Share:

Imagine a scenario in which we, as individuals, exist in different time universes, acting, reacting and interacting with everybody and everything around us in different, almost imperceptible ways, then imagine being able to look down on ourselves whilst living out one said existence?

Still with me? I hope so, because that is the crux of Nick Payne’s fabulous two-hander Constellations, which sees Roland and Marianne switch smoothly through often repeated, but marginally different life experiences and so become very different characters as each minute detail alters their individual personas.

Do you need to be up on the science behind the theory for this play? Not a bit of it; all that’s required is an understanding of what makes for superb theatre, brilliantly acted, written and directed, whilst being also aware that the subject matter will have you thinking about – well – life and its many imponderables for quite a while afterwards.

“If I hadn’t / had …” is a regular puzzler when looking back on certain events, which is basically what Payne has done so magnificently well with this play and with two actors of the stature of Louise Brealey and Joe Armstrong, aided and abetted by the sublime stage direction of Michael Longhurst, some exquisite set and lighting design from Tom Scutt and Lee Curran along with the Movement Direction of Lucy Cullingford which makes the events taking place appear so seamless and smooth and “of the moment”, it really is as though we have become more than voyeurs on proceedings and instead are the judges and jury of each incarnation presented before us.

Constellations is an ingeniously devised, thought provoking, captivating and – above all – multi-emotion evoking work of drama the likes of which only comes around on very rare occasions … unless, of course, we really are living within multi-variant parallel universes so that, in which case, if we are, then who knows if it’s actually been written yet or, indeed, whether we have actually seen it?

Liverpool Playhouse Theatre
May 19 – May 23
Author: Nick Payne
Director: Michael Longhurst
Movement Director: Lucy Cullingford
Cast: Louise Brealey, Joe Armstrong
Running Time: 1 hr 10 mins
PR Rating: **** Fascinating