Wednesday, 5 December 2012

‘Constellations’ - Royal Court at the Duke of York’s Theatre - Tuesday 4th December 2012

(Rated 7/5 ) 

I had a real struggle with physics at school – if only there had been a play like Constellations to see then to help me understand quarks and strings and parallel universes and Schrodinger’s cat in a box and similar concepts. I might then have had a hope, and not assumed it had to be the opposite of what I worked out, because I found it so hard to solve and confusing, that I thought maybe the opposite was right. Ironic as maybe in another universe or along another string (hm yes I still don’t fully understand strings (!)) the opposite maybe/is, right! Unfortunately in this one it wasn’t and I had to re-take my exam! But all that is in the past and with an idea like Constellations that past could be subtly or completely different depending on how I play it. In this case, in the story of physicist Marianne (Sally Hawkins) and bee-keeper Roland (Rafe Spall), the subtleties of possible play-outs of the relationship between them, the ways they play it/ act it are beyond phenomenal – out of this universe! I was in a funny mood when I went into this one – having a kind of lapse in passion for performance somehow – oh goodness did these two cure me of that… and then some! Two masters showing us the best of a masterclass in acting – how to express a full range of emotions combined with possible relationship dynamics and switch them at the clang/chink/fizzle of lights going off and on in split seconds – and keep it all fully believable throughout. Empathy hit the moment they both started. And they kept this up for a full seventy minutes. For a performance by actors to be that good though, they can’t do it alone. Yes, this really was two actors, both of whom I love – she especially for Happy-Go-Lucky, and he as the hilarious psychopath from The Shadow Line, and almost equally amusing and very Rafe Spall-ish interpretation of William Shakespeare in Anonymous – at their sensational best and the genius who enabled that is writer Nick Payne. I can honestly say I have never been so blown away by the intricacies and cleverly structured flow of a piece of writing since Audrey Niffeneger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife. I adored that book so much it found its way into my top five all-time favourite novels immediately and I felt so sad when I’d finished it! Constellations also harks back to Ground-Hog Day in terms of repeats of the same situation, ways of dealing with it and possible outcomes, though in my opinion Constellations is far superior and more intelligently done. The actors were also supported by superb direction by Michael Longhurst.  

This is the best thing since – whatever the last best thing was for me – and gets my fullest mark accordingly J

Constellations  – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2012

Twitter: @RestrictReview