‘Constellations’ a poignant look at relationships in the multiverse



The theory of the multiverse postulates that, what if, instead of one existence, there are an infinite number of universes with every possible permutation of reality all playing out simultaneously? Nick Payne’s play “Constellations” uses that concept to explore a series of interactions between two people in multiple different ways — some subtle, some completely divergent. Under the direction of Ken Martin, M&D at the Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse in North Conway is presenting “Constellations” Thursday through Sunday for the next two weeks. Roland (Joe Borsody) and Marianne (Christine Thompson) keep meeting and re-meeting as the play jumps between universes. The jump to different timelines is denoted by a whooshing sound effect and the flashing of the of the star like lights that are hanging both the bare stage. There’s no set dressing or furniture in Deb Jasien’s elegantly simple set design. There are the lights above and a mural of the galaxy painted on the stage below as if Roland and Marianne were floating between the various universes in which the scenes are playing out. Some scenes are as short as 30 seconds, while others go on for several minutes. In most cases, the dialogue is nearly identical, with a slight change that creates a divergency. Maybe Roland has a significant other and Marianne doesn’t or vice versa.

Joe Borsody and Christine Thompson star in M&D at the Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse production of “Constellations” which opened Thursday, Jan. 9. (LISA DUFAULT PHOTO)

In other examples, there’s no change in the language but it is emphasis on the words, the tone or inflection that changes. Other times, it becomes the distance between the actors that makes the difference. This is a fascinating exploration of how the slightest deviations in our interactions with our world can result in completely different outcomes. It is a reminder that not only is it the words that we choose but how we say them that impacts those around us. It is also an apt metaphor for theater itself. So much of theater is about how a scene is performed and staged. The smallest changes can transform an entire scene. The ways in which Borsody and Thompson choose to play the dialogue from scene to scene is able to transform it from playful banter in one instance to a bitterly barbed exchange in another. It is an acting challenge that Borsody and Thompson prove up to as they find subtle variations to add or subtract from their performances as they keep going over the same dialogue from different angles. In some universes, Marianne has a neurological disease that causes her to lose her words, which is beautifully, affectingly and authentically performed by Thompson. One scene plays out using sign language. These scenes even change how we understand the universe transitions. The flashing lights are meant to represent the constellations of the title, but also become like synapses fi ring in the brain. Some of the scenes could have benefited from more alterations, shadings or different levels, but that’s the beauty of this play: change is encouraged. Theater is an organic process. Each performance is supposed to replicate the last, but at the same time it is always growing and changing. No two performances will ever be the same. Perhaps more so than any other shows, “Constellations” is open to those variants over the run of a show. “Constellations” is a beautiful show that captures all the variations of life — from small to big from joy to pain — in an easily digestible 70-minute package. For more information or tickets, call (603) 733-5275 or go to mdplayhouse.com

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