Thursday, February 15, 2018


It isn’t often that I ponder the meaning of life after seeing a play. I mean, sure, seeing Grease made me think about high school and seeing Annie made me glad I’m not an orphan but I generally don’t rack my brain as I attempt to figure out the universe and our role in it.

But Theater Nova’s Constellations made me do exactly that. As soon as the actors took their bows my brain started whirring about, putting pieces together to make things fit. And know that there are a lot of pieces to fit together in this charming, heartbreaking, soul wrenching, wonderful 70 minutes of art.

Constellations begins at a barbecue where beekeeper Roland meets academic Marianne who we soon learn works in “theoretical early universe cosmology”. See now right there my brain would normally just shut down. My weakest subject in school was science, I took Biology 101 at a community college so I wouldn’t mess up my GPA, and I even avoid “physics at the pub” type events. But the Marianne character explained quantum mechanics and theoretic physics in such a way that even if I still don’t fully understand the ideas, I could at least follow along.

The main idea behind Constellations is that everything we ever do, or never do, spins off into an infinite and unimaginable number of possible universes. You met that cute guy at the barbecue but he was married? That’s a universe. You cheat on that cute guy that you met at the barbecue? Another universe. You meet the cute guy at a dance class that you are taking in preparation for your upcoming wedding? Yet another universe.

And here is how those universes look: Roland and Marianne move in together and one of them cheats on the other, or doesn’t. Roland and Marianne meet up at a dance class which may be for one of their upcoming weddings, or it isn’t. Roland and Marianne get back together and she is diagnosed with glioblastoma and gets a clean bill of health, or doesn’t. Marianne makes the decision to end her life, or she doesn’t.

But something is inevitable in any universe and that is the love between these two characters. The love may never get beyond the barbecue, or the infidelity, or the dance class but it is there. This is the thread that carries the audience through the play. Helped along by clever lighting changes, outstanding directing and amazing acting, Constellations hits all the right stars in the galaxy.

Your last chance to see this lovely play is this weekend: Thursday at 8pm, Friday at 8pm, Friday at 8pm, or Sunday at 2pm. All performances take place at the Yellow Barn at 410 West Huron Street.

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