BWW Review: CONSTELLATIONS moved hearts at TheatreWorks New Milford
Love knows no bounds; not distance, nor hardship, nor time. That is the central theme behind Constellations, written by Nick Payne, and the theme of TheatreWorks New Milford's production, under the direction of Viv Berger. Payne's non-linear plot requires a production team to trust their audience and focus on telling the story rather than making sure that the story can be understood. In a story where time is not linear and each scene is a different timeline of the same couple going through the same events it can be hard to follow, but when you trust the script to tell the story and trust your audience to pick up on these concepts, you can focus on making each scene feel real and organic. That is precisely what Berger and his team did when producing Constellations.
With an obvious focus on storytelling, there was little need for spectacle. Lights were primarily up and down and the set a series of flat surfaces that the actors could walk, sit, and lounge on. This simplicity creates an expectation that when something more complex does arrive, it drawn the attention, which was the biggest fear with using projections underscoring the entire performance. However combining the video design of Kate Moncuse and the story board design of Alex Echevarria created a beautifully abstract effect on stage that, despite being ever-present, never seemed to distract from the short, quick scenes being performed. Berger's evident organization of these quick, mini-scenes shown strongly in the blocking of movement, where whenever a scene was repeated with slight changes, there were also slight changes in the movement; both to help the actors and to keep the audience's attention.
All of the beauty that the production team put into Constellations would have been for naught had it not been for the duo of Heather Haneman and Matthew Benjamin Horowitz, whom played Marianne and Roland, respectively. The degree of seriousness they brought to the craft and their genuine portrayals of these two people exploring love across time and reality kept the audience transfixed every time a scene repeated. Plus, the talent required to remember dozens of different variations of the same scene in order did not escape the audience's gaze. Watching the on stage chemistry of the pair brought all of this production's elements- from the script to the projections to the movement- together to create an incredibly moving work of art. TheatreWorks New Milford trusted the audience and told a story of love across time and the audience accepted and enjoyed the experience, praising the production for all the credit and recognition that they deserved.