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‘Constellations’ at Horizon Theatre

2017 February 8
Marge and Roland. Photo: Britt Else

Bethany Irby and Enoch King. Photo: Britt Else

“Constellations” is a Rashomon-like journey into the relationship between Marianne (Bethany Irby) and Roland (Enoch King). Or maybe I should say the relationships between the two, as the relationship and the couple are constantly changing. Marianne is a scientist studying how several outcomes can co-exist simultaneously. And thus follows the theme of the play. Every sentence could have a different outcome¬†or a different response from the other person, and you’ll see them all played out.

In the vein of the famed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s film “Rashomon,” the scenes in the play all have different outcomes. When Marianne first approaches Roland, he is not interested in her romantically. She tries to get his attention, and he responds one way. She says the same line again, and he responds another way. She says the line again, and gets a different response, and again, receiving different responses each time. Whereas in “Rashomon” a whole story is told before we see that scene played out in another way, in “Constellations,” there are so many outcomes of a single sentence uttered it is difficult to know what the plot or story line is. That is all revealed in the end, but in the meantime, I’m losing interest and am wondering what Marianne is referring to when she talks about going back to work. Much of the play seemed to me to be more of an acting exercise to see how the characters would respond truthfully in different ways to one another. What kept me interested, is the acting, which is terrific.

There may be so many ways to skin a cat, but seeing each cut, piece by piece was difficult for me. Alas, the story comes together at the end and might even make you cry.

Written by Nick Payne, directed by Justin Anderson, “Constellations” runs through Feb. 26 at Horizon Theatre.

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