BWW Review: CONSTELLATIONS: AN OUT OF THIS WORLD SUCKER PUNCH TO THE HEART at Jobsite Theater
Not very often does a piece of theatre come along that is truly cathartic, visceral and downright unnerving, but humbling as well. Summer Bohenenkamp's direction of Nick Payne's cathartic masterpiece Constellations does just that. The perfect closer to an unforgettable season at Jobsite Theater, the resident theatre company at the Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz Center. This show truly embraces everything Jobsite is about and in my honest opinion is the show of the Season! For a piece of work as visceral as this to unearth emotions deep inside and show a true honest take at the human emotion deeply resounded in a relationship, makes for an unwavering and unforgettable 85 minutes.
The characters are so raw in their element and the acting is spot-on, and by far some of the best acting I've seen to date. Marianne a Universtiy Cosmologist played effortlessly by the wonderful Georgia Mallory Guy, meets the awkward and sometimes quirky Beekeeper Roland played by Giles Davies. After a series of mishaps and rocky starts and stops, over the course of time the two unlikely pair find a fondness in one another. The opening sequence of the show, has the two on stage in a repeated cadence to show the passing of time. 3 different moments in time, 3 different outcomes, 3 different starts and stops to a relationship. From the moment of first meet, the natural rhythm in delivery of lines, and how truly grounded each actor was to their intentional moments made it seem as if these two have been friends forever. Georgia Mallory Guy delivers a sucker-punch to the gut with every intention and every line in this show. She makes your heart ache one moment, and make you belly laugh the next. Her delivery is so spot-on I was lingering on every word. Giles Davies brings a lanky awkwardness to Roland, but delivers such true honesty in each moment its a gripping and moving performance to be remembered for time to come. Not only is the dialogue something of epic greatness, but the direction and plight of these two seasoned performers is a work of sheer genius. The moment-moment between these two is so grounded and so cathartic as an audience member you can see a side of yourself in both of these characters, something truly rare to find nowadays.
Technically this show is out of this world. Its intricate, and simplistic all at the same time. It allows the audience to be emotionally invested in the story and resonate with the plight of the characters without the annoyance of scene changes. The round platform design of the set lays resonance to the round-and-round of their relationship. Like hands on a clock and moving backwards and forwards in time, the set was a perfect testament to the passing of time in a relationship. The circular pieces on the walls kept us amongst the stars and the planets surrounding us. It lent beautifully to the story of the Cosmologist and also kept us abreast to the fact that like the multi-verse and all that surrounds us, love can be something other-worldly. Love is grounded in theory, theory that the relationship will last, theory that it will fail, or even theory that something unexpected could make time stop in its path. Its is the unknown that makes a relationship so honest, so visceral, and yet so guttural that free will ultimately takes hold. Technically the Company of Constellations knocked this one clean into the multi-verse and I was invested every minute.
One things Marianne says truly stuck with me, "I have to have a choice...control." Love can be so unexpected and in the end its how you choose to embrace the unexpected that truly defines your time on this Earth. An Earth shattering moment in any relationship happens, and it makes the characters question their moral stance on the relationship. The breakup, the failed attempt, the moment when all that was had could be lost truly defines a person's moral compass. The reconciliation is the testament to how strong a bond between two people can truly be. Again Marianne pulls at the heart strings and honestly states what we've all thought at one time or another, "I don't know if I want you to stay, because I want you to stay, or because I don't want to go to bed alone." Astutely spoken, and like a sucker punch to the heart, as if a pin would drop and you could hear it for miles, that moment was the most intense and most sincere moment I've seen on stage in some time.
A chance meeting at a Ballroom Dance lesson, brings the couple face to face once again after some time apart. Is he engaged, is she engaged, or are neither of the two engaged and maybe they were lost in the multi-verse until this chance encounter? Either way you look at it, love ultimately is the band-aid ripped off and replaced in order to heal and bring back together the one thing we've all known. However like life hanging in the balance and the hands of time stopping dead in its tracks, a tragic event takes hold. Marianne's speech is sacrificed and they must resort to communicating via sign language. The moment-moment instances where signing on stage could potentially get monotonous, was so riveting it felt like they have been signing most of their life. It was just as grounded and honestly delivered as the spoken words, and this is a feat that was truly exceptional.
So as in Nick Payne's expertly balanced dialogue, "When your times up, your times up!" What happens when this idea, this thought, this theory is thrust to the forefront of your relationship? What do you do when you lose all control. In a moment where time is reversed Marianne states, "If it were me, and I were you, I'd want as much time as possible." Roland replies, "What do you mean Time?" That exchange in essence is the singular most moving moment. Time itself is irrelevant, and with no past, and no present, how do you choose to live in the moment and embrace the time you have? In life, in a relationship there is no true linear reason why a person does what they do, but rather in the irrelevance of the situation its how you move forward, its how you embrace change, its how no matter what; you live for all that you have, for you never know when time can stop, and sometimes its faster and more unexpected than you think. If visceral, unnerving, and sincerely honest work is something you seek; if you are in search for a piece of theater to move you, and shake you to the core from the inside out, then Constellations is the ticket in which you've been looking for. Take a dive into the multi-verse, spend some time focusing on the importance that life and love has to offer. You never know when your time will be up, but when it is will you be prepared? They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if we all take a moment to embrace love, embrace life, the way Marianne and Roland chose to live, then we might all just embrace a more sincere, more honest, and open way to love and to live. Constellations continues at the Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz Center through August 4. Tickets start at just 29.50 and can be purchased by visiting www.strazcenter.org.
PHOTO CREDIT: STRAZ CENTER