An Interesting Play
By Iride Aparicio
Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Marianne (CARIE KAWA) and Roland (ROBERT GILBERT
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – In “CONSTELLATIONS,” that opened to the press on August 26 at the Mountain View Center for the Arts, Theatre Works presented an esoteric play that left many in the audience with a few answers and lots of questions.
As a play, CONSTELLATIONS is a dialogue between two characters. Marianne (CARIE KAWA) a cosmologist, and Roland (ROBERT GILBERT) a beekeeper. That is the information that we learns about them.
Marianne introduces herself to men by asking them the question: “Don’t you know that you cannot lick the tip of your elbow? And then goes on explaining to them what would happen to humans if they could do it. That is how she meets Roland one night when both were observing the stars. (represented on the stage by a large metal Polygon with RGB white lights that change to a different color to indicate a change in the story's segment.)
The cast and creative set of CONSTELLATIONS
After Marianne becomes aware that Roland (GILBERT) is interested in listening to her scientific explanations and that he may even be interested in her, she nourishes their relashionship. The play continues with a series of short conversations between them, some of which do not make much sense to the audience because the conversations take place at different time in a different universes, to demonstrate to the audience the “String Theory” which states that “Several outcomes can coexist simultaneously. At any given moment.”
Also to demonstrate the theory to the audience, their conversations are repeated at times. At other times, the conversation that we just heard, changes completely one second later. So, we hear Marianne asking Roland to stay with her that night, and a in less than a minute telling him to leave her home because she needs to be alone. The sudden changes, even with the lights changing color to indicate a different universe, get very confusing for the audience.
It does not help either that even when both actors are playing their roles convincingly, there is no chemistry between them, so, it does not take long for some of us to wonder what Roland sees in Marianne, and why he does not leave her.
During the play, in fragments of dialogue we learn that Marianne’s mother was sick and then died, and that Marianne is sick She never mentions her sickness by name, but she says is fatal and that she may need Chemo so we presume that is related to Cancer. But later on reversing what she just said, she mentions that her sickness does not have to be fatal, because there is treatment that may cure her.
During her illness, we see her getting weaker an weaker, Losing her ability to write, unable to create memories, and even losing her voice, We also see that Roland is caring for her and that now they can only communicate with each other using Sign language.
Beekeeper Roland (GILBERT) and Cosmologist Marianne (KAWA)
CONSTELLATIONS was first staged at the upstairs theatre in London in January 2012 and then transferred to the Duke of York’s Theatre in London’s West End in November. The play won the Evening Standard Award in London for Best Play. CONSTELLATIONS debuted on Broadway in 2015, with JAKE GYLLENHAAL starring in the New York Production.
Analyzing this play as a play is not possible, because being so different it does not follow the average plays' structure. CONSTELLATIONS has no premise, the characters lack third dimension. They have no motivation, and their dialogue doesn’t move the action.
This is a play where an indented line on the stage indicates a change in universe, and in short dialoque segments of tries to answer the question of “Why should the universe have a purpose?
Its dialogue is nothing but fractions of conversations, but in those fractions discuses of “The String Theory”, which examines the world by generating a single theory that explains phenomena, both on a very small and very large scale. It posits that every particle known to us is comprised of minute, vibrating strings, and its mathematics is compatible with general relativity and quantum mechanics. But for the numbers to add up, we would need to accept that our universe is comprised of many space-time dimensions and that that our universe may not be the only universe.
There are also discussions on the theory of possible lives of a single couple, where at any given moment several outcomes can coexist simultaneously in a vast ensemble of parallel universes. Unless one is familiar with all these theories, one will be unable to understand the play.
In writing CONSTELLATIONS, British Award-winning Playwright NICK PAYNE not only shrank his playwrights’ conventions, (as he admits doing, in his writings) but he got too convoluted in his Scientific language. And if CONSTELLATIONS, that takes place across forty-some unique iterations in less than two hours may be too deep for the average theatre goers, it is interesting
The show will continue at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts until September 17, 2017. For information or to order tickets call (650) 463-1960 or go online to TheatreWorks.org.