REVIEW: Constellations, Vaudeville Theatre

This thoughtful and powerful production is a fascinating look at the many different directions relationships and life can take.

(c) Marc Brenner

Do you ever wonder what direction your life would have taken had you made a different decision or reacted in a contrasting way? With Nick Payne’s glorious and moving play, we get a glimpse of this through the relationship between Roland and Marianne, who meet at a barbecue and from there a million different possibilities emerge of what their life together could be like.

While the play moves backwards and forwards as well as seemingly stuck in the same moment with subtle differences that can make it feel as though it has a Groundhog day feel about it, it has a glorious warmth and humour about it that keeps it compelling to watch unfold. This could seem tiresome, but director Michael Longhurst ensures that it keeps flowing seamlessly from start to finish by keeping the staging simple to allows the characters and the ultimately tragic story to come to life on its own terms. It doesn’t need anything fancy done to it to draw the audience’s attention.

(c) Marc Brenner

Tom Scutt’s gorgeous and luminous set design enhances the idea of the numerous possibilities of life and the science that is effortlessly and almost poetically placed into the script, while Lee Curran’s lighting design highlights the romance and emotion that runs through the piece. Every element of this sleekly put together revival helps to highlight particular themes found in the play: grief, love, memory and time in a way that it feels as though the play is over in no time at all. It grabs and holds the audience’s attention in an extraordinary way.

What also makes this revival so interesting is that there are four different casts, offering a different perspective on a story that can have a multitude of possibilities. In this particular performance, Peter Capaldi and Zoë Wanamaker offer powerfully poignant performances as Roland and Marianne, you feel their pain and vulnerability at the centre of every conversation that they share. This is particularly felt in the tragic moments towards the end of the play or the flashes of anger that they direct at each other – it all feels deeply intimate and raw. Capaldi and Wanamaker make for an immensely enjoyable couple to watch on stage. But I’m now equally intrigued to see how Sheila Atim and Ivanno Jeremiah (until the 1st August), Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey (30th July – 11th September) and Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd (6th August – 12th September) approach the story.

Constellations is a wonderfully fascinating play that has been brilliantly revived for the West End in a way that stays with you long after the curtain comes down. Unique and distinctive – it is well worth watching.

Constellations continues to play at the Vaudeville Theatre until the 12th September. To book tickets click here or visit: Love, London Theatre Direct, Theatre Tickets Direct, From the Box Office or Last

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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