Constellations (directed by Kathleen Capdesuñer ’17) is the story of an ordinary British couple set in a universe of infinite possibilities. The third show in this year’s Second Stage Series, Constellations played at the Fred Stone Theater from February 1-4, 2017.
Constellations is not a show for the casual, inattentive viewer. Brianna Barrett ’19 and Casey Casteel ’17 are Marianne and Roland, an average couple whose struggles play out in a multiverse born from their own decisions. Each scene plays out multiple times: same scenario, miniscule differences. In one scenario, Marianne and Roland argue over infidelity–the first scene has Marianne as the cheater, in the third scene Roland has cheated. The dialogue is rapid and witty, a back-and-forth while Barrett and Casteel orbit around each other, pushing and pulling like magnets.
According to Capdesuñer, “Constellations was an intense and rewarding process. We tackled a very complex script in a month’s time. The play is essentially fifty different universes so that means fifty different situational circumstances. It pushed the actors and myself to really dig into the text and look to each other for solutions that were not obvious. Additionally, there is no set, so the success of the play relied on innovative staging and honest acting. Everything was stripped bare for the most truthful and essential performance. Not all plays call for that!”
The set itself was minimalist. Rather than depending on props to differentiate settings, light and sound were the only cues the audience received to signal a change in scene. As a result, Barrett and Casteel use the space around them to the best of their ability: sitting, standing, dancing, or running from corner to corner. Much like the entire plot of the show, viewers are required to push their mental limits and envision a set being created out of thin air. Before their eyes, a suburban backyard BBQ becomes a dingy flat in urban Tower Hamlets.
Overall, Constellations was a feat of creativity: dynamic and engaging whilst working with the bare minimum. Its leads were sympathetic and genuine in their performances, taking the audience on an emotionally complex journey. Constellations is a play about the role of choice and control in our lives and the divergent paths that are born from the decisions we make.
The next show in the Second Stage Series is God of Carnage, which will run in the Fred Stone Theatre from February 8-11, 2017. Tickets are free!